It was World No. 1 Pramod Bhagat staking his claims to greatness at the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships 2019 in Basel, Switzerland on Sunday after he edged past an otherwise fearful Daniel Bethell of England and clinched his third Worlds title in men’s singles SL3 category. Bhagat’s overcame his opponent in emphatic style and proved his mettle in the sport. This was a second Worlds title for Bhagat at the Championship as he won men’s doubles SL3-4 encounter on the penultimate day of the competitions. He and his partner Manoj Sarkar kept the nation on the edge of its seats as they stormed from a set down to tilting the scoreline to their side as they defeated compatriots Nitesh Kumar and Tarun Dhillon 14-21, 21-15, 21-16 in the final. India finished with 12 medals to everyone’s delight, including three golds. On Sunday, Bhagat bettered his own winning record against Bethell to lead at 3-1 this season with an eye-popping 6-21, 21-14, 21-5 scoreline in the final that lasted almost an hour. Unlike the first game, Bhagat relied more on his rallies and half smashes to emerge winner in the next two.
He further added, “The only thing that crossed my mind after I lost the first game was that I need to make a comeback. The win here was important in terms of Tokyo2020 qualification points and also for my confidence.” With this win, he has added six singles gold medals to his name this year. In men’s singles SL4 final, however, it was unfortunate for Tarun as he was forced to retire with a twisted leg midway in the first game against France’s world no. 1 Lucas Mazur. The Indian was leading 14-13 when he retired hurt and settled for his second silver in the championships. Indian coach Gaurav Khanna was content with his team’s performance and said, “Pramod’s fitness was better than Bethell today and that made the difference. The second and third games seemed quite easy. However, it was a bad day for Tarun as he was in a commanding position and we were looking forward to another gold. But he twisted his leg and is in pain now. But overall it was a stellar performance by India at this Worlds.”
World’s title a dream come true: Manasi Joshi
It was a matter of irresistible delight for India’s Para-Badminton star Manasi Joshi when she clinched her first World Championship, cruising past an experienced compatriot Parul Parmer in the women’s singles SL3 finals on Saturday. Having faced the three-time world champion Parmer several times this year and always finishing on the losing side, Joshi wasn’t the favourite going into the final. However, she beat the odds keeping her calm and some sharp strokes to defeat Parmer 21-12, 21-7 for the first time in her fledgling career. Joshi, who lost her left leg in an accident in 2011, made a slow start and was even 2-7 down in the opening game but raced ahead owing to better fitness. In the second game, she was ahead from the start and went on to pick up nine consecutive points en route to the gold. An elated Joshi later admitted that her strenuous training at the Pullela Gopichand Academy recently did wonders for her campaign.
“I’ve been playing Para badminton since 2015. Winning medal at Worlds is always a dream come true,” Manasi added. Khanna praised Joshi’s improved show and believes that it’s the start of a new era. “Parul was leading the show for many years. But she is 46 years old, and that makes a difference when you are up against a younger player. I am sure she will make a comeback. Having said that, Mansi has improved over the years. And she is much more mature as a player now,” Khanna told PCI. In other matches, third-seeded Krishna Nagar and Raja Magotra settled for silver going down 21-15, 17-21, 21-18 to top seeds Man Kai Chu and Chun Yim Wong of Chinese Taipei in a thrilling men’s doubles SS6 category that lasted 55 minutes. Among the top names: Korea’s Kim Jungjun (MSWH2), Indonesians Leani Ratri Oktila (WSSL4) and Dheva Anrimusthi (MSSU5), England’s Jack Shephard (MSSS6), China’s Qu Zimao (MSWH2) all emerged winners. In fact, Oktila, Anrimusthi, and Zimao clinched two titles each.
India’s Medal Review
WS SL3: Manasi Joshi (Gold); Parul Parmar (Silver)
MS SL3: Pramod Bhagat (Gold); Manoj Sarkar (Bronze)
MS SL4 : Tarun Dhillon (Silver); Sukant Kadam (Bronze)
MS SS6 : Krishna Nagar (Bronze)
MD SL3-SL4 : Pramod Bhagat & Manoj Sarkar (Gold); Nitesh Kumar & Tarun Dhillon (Silver); Vikram Umesh (Bronze)
MD SU5 : Rajkumar and Rakesh Pandey (Bronze)
MD SS6 : Raja Maghotra and Krishna Nagar (Silver)