Pramod Bhagat scripted history on 4 August as he became India’s first-ever Paralympic badminton gold medalist at the Games. The 33-year-old won the gold medal in the men’s singles badminton SL3 event at the Tokyo Paralympics, living up to the tag of the World No. 1 and pre-tournament favourite.
Pramod Bhagat had set his sights on the gold medal after the authority, the International Paralympic Committee, announced that badminton would debut in Tokyo. The senior campaigner, who is regarded as one of the best in the SL3 category, made the most of the opportunity by reigning supreme on his Games debut.
Pramod Bhagat, a four-time world championship gold medalist, defeated Great Britain’s Daniel Bethell 21-14, 21-17 in 45 min to win India’s historic gold in Para badminton’s debut at the Games.
Meanwhile, Manoj Sarkar, who lost the semi-final of SL3 event earlier in the day, roared back to win the bronze and take India’s medal tally to 17. Sarkar defeated Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara in straight games (22-20, 21-13) to make sure two Indians finished on the podium in the men’s singles SL3 event. In fact, it was Pramod who had beaten Daisuke in straight games in the semi-final.
The Indian shutter started off the big final on a shaky note but he dominated the proceedings with the drift favoring his side of the court. Pramod needed just 21 minutes against Bethell. However, the British shutter put behind the defeat in the opening game to race to a 11-4 lead.
Pramod though did not drop his shoulders as the Indian star rallied back to concede just 6 points to his opponent from thereon while winning 17 of them to take the gold in straight games.
Bhagat, who had contracted polio when he was 5 years old, is one of the best para shuttlers in the country with 45 international medals under his belt, including four world championship gold medals and a gold and a bronze in the 2018 Asian Para Games.
In SL classification, persons with standing/lower limb impairment/severe are allowed to compete. In the SL3 event, only half of the court is used with players serving straight and using the area after the first sideline as well.