Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.

Table Tennis

Table Tennis: From Gujarat to Tokyo, women paddlers look to make a mark at Paralympics

All eyes will be on seasoned table tennis players Bhavina Patel and Sonalben Patel as they vie for an elusive medal at Tokyo Paralympics.

Bhavina Patel and Sonalben Patel

Bhavina Patel and Sonalben Patel will face off in the finals of CWG 2022


Sohinee Basu

Updated: 27 Aug 2021 10:55 AM GMT

As India gears up for the showdown at the Tokyo Paralympics by sending its largest-ever contingent to the quadrennial Games, two women paddlers from Gujarat will be looking to make their mark in the table tennis event at the Paralympics.

Bhavina Patel and Sonalben Patel are heading to the Japanese capital to begin their campaign for a medal in the Women's Singles Wheelchair Class 4 category and Women's Singles Wheelchair Class 3 event, respectively. Additionally, Bhavina and Sonalben will join forces for the Women's Doubles as well.

Para table tennis is one of the first events that will kick off at the Tokyo Paralympics and both Bhavina Patel and Sonalben Patel will be in action for the qualification events from Day 1 of the Games. Scheduled to be held from August 25th to August 27th, para table tennis will have the semi-final and final events on August 28 and August 29, respectively.

Both Bhavina and Sonalben hail from the same state - Gujarat and train in the same academy as well under Coach Lalan Doshi at the Blind People's Association in Ahmedabad. Moreover, both Bhavina and Sonalben are seasoned paddlers familiar with success as they have medals from the 2018 Para Asian Games too.

Bhavina and Sonalben will look to create history at the Paralympics

Bhavina Patel and Sonalben Patel (Source: SAI Media Twitter)

For Bhavina Patel, who was diagnosed with polio when she was just an year old, life has been difficult. However, Patel has an extremely supportive family who stuck with her through thick and thin.

A former World No. 2 paddler, Bhavina became the first female Indian paddler to book a spot at the Paralympics when she had secured a berth for the 2016 Rio Paralympics but was, sadly, unable to compete.

Now that 2021 has arrived, Bhavina, now ranked 8th in the world has left no stones unturned and has her eyes trained on Tokyo. Having represented her country in 28 international tournaments that comprise the World Championships as well, Bhavina is a well-decorated paddler boasting of a rich collection of medals - 5 gold, 13 silver, 8 bronze.

All of this growth has been facilitated by Bhavina being included in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and timely interventions by the Government of India to help her participate in a large number of tournaments.

Due to this, Bhavina has been receiving financial support and has availed of TT tables, Robot and TT Wheelchair for personal training, dietician, sports psychologist and coaching fees to get her in shape for the Tokyo Paralympics. Bhavinaben Patel has become the first Indian in Tokyo Paralympics to reach the semifinal stage.

Sonalben Patel, on the other hand, was also affected by polio at an young age which left her bound to a wheelchair. But that did not deter the spirit of Sonalben who always loved table tennis, after seeing people play.

While she was doing an industrial course at an institute in Ahmedabad, the superintendent of the institute, Tejalben Lakhia encouraged Sonalben to take up the sport and there has been no looking back since then.

Currently ranked 18th in the world in the Wheelchair Class 3 event, Sonalben will look to create ripples at the Tokyo Paralympics and fetch glory, both individually and alongside Bhavina in the doubles.

Next Story