Tokyo: Indian shuttler Pramod Bhagat added to India’s medal rush by winning the gold medal in the men’s singles (SL3) event at the ongoing Tokyo Paralympics. He defeated Great Britain’s Daniel Bethell 21-14,21-17 to win the final in Japan.
Top-seed Pramod continued his unbeaten run by sweeping the first game 21-14 in just 21 minutes. After racing to a 15-9 lead, he overcame a brief period of resistance from the Brit to take a 1-0 lead.
Bethell came out with all guns blazing in the second game. He stormed to a 12-6 lead to put the Indian under pressure. But Pramod fought back to draw level at 15-15. He then raced ahead to win the second game 21-17 in 24 minutes and secure another gold medal for India.
Pramod’s journey in the 2021 Paralympics got off to a dream start in Group A. On his way to the semifinals, he defeated fellow countryman Manoj Sarkar 21-10, 21-23,21-9, and Ukraine’s Oleksandr Chyrkov 21-12,21-9.
In the last four stage, he stormed past Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara 21-11,21-16 to make the final.
The 33-year-old from Bhubaneswar also remains in contention for a bronze medal in mixed doubles SL3-SU5 class.
Bhagat and his partner Palak Kohli will square off against Japanese pair of Daisuke Fujihara and Akiko Sugino in the bronze medal play off on Sunday.
They had lost the semifinals 3-21 15-21 to Indonesian combination of Hary Susanto and Leani Ratri Oktila earlier in the day.
Bhagat, who had contracted polio when he was 4 years old, picked up the sports after watching his neighbours play. Initially, he competed against able-bodied players before getting into competitive para badminton in 2006.
He eventually emerged as 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 2018 Asian Para Games.
He also had started his career as a badminton coach but took a break in 2019 to focus on Tokyo Paralympics qualification.
In 2019, he received the Arjuna Award and Biju Patnaik Award for Excellence in Sports in India.
Earlier in the day, Suhas Yathiraj and Krishna Nagar also sailed into the men’s singles finals of SL4 class and SH6 class respectively.