Krishna Nagar on Sunday claimed India’s second gold medal in badminton at Tokyo Paralympics with a thrilling three-game win over Hong Kong’s Chu Man Kai in the men’s singles SH6 class final.
The 22-year-old Nagar, who has a short stature impairment, won 21-17 16-21 21-17 to retain his unbeaten run at the Games.
Second seed Nagar, who last played Chu Man Kai two years ago, came into the match with a 2-1 head-to-head advantage. It turned out to be a pulsating contest as the duo fought tooth and nail but the Indian held his nerve to close it out.
The duo played short rallies initially and Nagar managed to lead 4-2 and 8-6 before Chu clawed back and led 11-9 at the break after the Indian hit wide.
Chu continued in the same vein and soon opened up a 16-11 lead. But Nagar tightened his net play and covered the court well to draw parity at 16-16 before winning another rally with a backhand return.
Another backhand flick gave him three game points and he sealed it when his rival went to net. Chu recovered to lead 11-7 in the second game after an initial close battle, stayed ahead and eventually unleashed a smash to take the match to the decider.
Nagar began the decider string, cruising to 5-1 lead and then led 11-7 with a looping forehand return before moving to 13-8 after resumption. However, errors crept in his game, allowing Chu to level at 13-13.
Nagar stepped up his game in the final stages and unleashed a series of smashes. He grabbed four match points with another superb return and rushed into the arms of coach Gaurav Khanna in celebration after his rival went wide again.
Nagar, who has a short stature impairment, picked up the sport after being encouraged by his cousin. However, he started playing the sport seriously only four years back has won bronze at Para Asian Games before claiming a bronze and silver at 2019 World Championships in singles and doubles respectively.
The world No 2 also won a silver in Brazil and two gold medals in singles and doubles in Peru last year. He also claimed two gold medals at the Dubai Para Badminton International in April this year.
“This is a dream come true. I want to thank my father, mother, uncle, auntie, God, my coaches,” said Nagar after winning India’s fifth gold at the Games.
“This is the first time that badminton has been added to the Paralympics and I hope that India will keep winning and doing their best at upcoming Games.”
With PTI Inputs