World Championships: India's para shuttlers ensure 15 medals, top seeds reach semis
Former world champion Manasi Joshi and Paralympic champion Pramod Bhagat led the Indian charge into the semifinals.
Promising Manisha Ramadass and Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan slowly marched towards realising their dreams of becoming a world champion, as they reached the semi-finals of women's singles and doubles events at the BWF Para Badminton World Championships here on Friday.
Ramadass and Sivan, both playing their first Worlds in Tokyo, joined former champion Manasi Joshi who too made it to the women's singles SL3 and mixed doubles SL3-SU5 along with Ruthick Ragupathi.
Ramadass first saw off compatriot Shanthiya Viswanathan 21-8, 21-8 and followed the momentum to defeat 21-17, 21-15 the pair of Joshi and Viswnathan, alongwith Mandeep Kaur, who exited in her women's singles SL3 event.
"It feels great to be in the semis of two events at my first World Championships. But I am not done yet, I want to give my best shot and make my country proud.
"Initially it was difficult to adjust to the conditions here; the body is not warming up soon. But now I have got used to it and I feel I am able to play my usual game," said Ramadass, who won 10 gold medals since playing her first international in March 2022.
Sivan in 3 semis, Nagar ousted
On a day when several Indian para shuttlers exited, Paralympic champion Krishna Nagar too crashed out of the Worlds Championships going down fighting to England's Krysten Coombs 15-21, 23-21, 21-19.
On the positive side, para shuttlers ensured 15 medals for India. Nagar paired up with Sivan to overcome Hong Kong's Chu Man Kai and Choi Wing Kei 23-21, 21-18.
Sivan later teamed up with Rachana Shaileshkumar Patel to beat England's 15-year-old Anya Butterworth and Egypt's Yasmina Eissa 21-10, 21-14 in women's doubles SH6.
In women's singles SH6, Sivan kept her hopes alive too defeating Chinese Taipei's Cai Yi-Lin 21-13, 21-6 to advance as did Parul Parmar after battling past Brazil's Adriane Spinetti Avila 21-12,19-21,21-15.
Bhagat, Sarkar look strong
Paralympic champion Pramod Bhagat led the men's charge winning his men's singles SL3 quarter-final over Ukraine's Oleksandr Chyrkov 21-17, 21-19.
Defending champions Bhagat and Manoj Sarkar reached the men's doubles SL3-SL4 semis with a bye. "It was a good match. Slowly I feel I am forming a bonding with the courts here. And my body feels good playing here. I am confident of making the top of the podium," said the five-time world champion Bhagat.
Sarkar, meanwhile, overcame a second game scare to defeat France's Mathieu Thomas 21-15, 12-21, 9-21 in the men's singles SL3 quarter-finals and booked a clash with compatriot Nitesh Kumar who pulled out an easy win against William Smith 21-8, 21-12.
"I started the match quite casually but once I got into the rhythm, I felt good about my game. I tried to change the strategy too to not give away points to him (Thomas), which I did in the second game," said Sarkar, the Basel 2019 bronze medallist, hoping to make it to the finals this time.
In men's singles SL4, Sukant Kadam pulled off a spirited 21-10, 21-15 win over Singapore's Chee Hiong Ang. Kadam next faces Fredy Setiawan, the Paralympic bronze medallist from Indonesia.
Among others, Chirag Baretha and Raj Kumar, Hardik Makkar and Ruthick Ragupathi advanced to the men's doubles SU5 semi-finals.
In other thrilling encounters, Sivarajan Solaimalai fought his heart out before losing 21-19,19-21, 21-19 to England's top player Jack Shephard, while Prem Kumar Ale and Abu Hubaida also exited after fighting for 1 hour 22 minutes against France's Thomas Jakobs and David Toupe 21-18, 11-21, 23-21.