Pramod Bhagat clinched the gold medal in the men's SL3 para-badminton singles category, beating World Number 2 Danaiel Bethell 21-14, 21-17 in the final.
Pramod Bhagat created history, clinching the coveted gold medal in men’s SL3 para-badminton singles category at the ongoing Tokyo Paralympics. The 33-year-old defeated world number 2 Daniel Bethell 21-14, 21-17 in the final. Besides, Manoj Sarkar beat Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara 22-20, 21-13 to win the bronze in the same category. This is the first time ever at the summer Paralympic games that Para-Badminton has been included. The spirited Indian Para-Badminton players have gone on to create history in the sport’s maiden appearance in the tournament.
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The match started on an even note with both the players exchanging points before Bethell opened up a 6-3 lead. However, it did not take long for Pramod Bhagat to equalise and take an 8-6 lead with some long rallies being played at this point. Pramod managed to go into the mid-game break with an 11-8 lead. Bhagat upped his game from that point, racing to a 15-8 lead in no time before Bethell finally managed to pull one back with a powerful smash to the baseline. Then the the Brit put together a few good shots. All of a sudden, the seven-point lead was reduced to a three-point one at 15-12 for the Indian.
However, Pramod Bhagat soon pulled up his socks to close off the first game 21-14 in 21 minutes. Daniel Bethell started off with vengeance in the second game, racing to a 5-1 lead in no time. While Pramod did manage to snatch a point back, the British player extended his lead to 8-2 before going into the mid-game break at 11-4 with a seven-point lead. The restart brought some consecutive points for Pramod Bhagat as he reduced the deficit to two points at 10-12 before equalising at 15-15.
The Indian then led for the first time in the match at 16-15 and further stretched it to three points at 19-16. With pressure firmly on him, Daniel Bethell crumbled with a couple of loose shots to surrender the game and match at 21-17.
Hailing from Attabira, Odisha, Pramod comes from a family of six brothers and sisters. Despite being physically impaired in the leg due to an early case of polio, the 33-year-old has climbed the highest rings of honour that is on offer in the world of para badminton. In doing so, he has taken India’s medal tally at the ongoing games to 17 — a record for India at the Paralympic games – and still counting.
Meanwhile, Indian para-badminton player Manoj Sarkar beat Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara 22-20, 21-13 to win the bronze medal in the men’s singles SL3 badminton category. The world no. 3 in his category, Sarkar took the first point in Game 1, however, Fujihara closed in and picked up on his lead at 4-1. Sarkar picked up successive points to equalise at 5-5 and then started building a lead.
Manoj maintained a three-point lead at 11-8 during the interval. He paced up his performance but Fujihara made a good comeback in the attempt at equalising at 19-19. He raced past Manoj at 20-19 and earned one game point. Manoj levelled at 20-20 and then went on to win the first game at 22-20 in 27 minutes.
The second game began with a 2-2 tie and Manoj raced past Fujihara at 5-2. At interval, Manoj had a five-point lead of 11-6. He went to establish a 16-8 lead over the Japanese player and it seemed quite easy for him to win the match. He eventually pocketed the game 21-13, thereby winning the match. Manoj was struck by polio during his teenage years and has taken the impairment well in his stride. A regular in both singles and doubles categories; he has won numerous tournaments at national, continental and international levels, while also maintaining his ranking among the world’s best over the years.