Inspired by PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, Pramod Bhagat wins gold at Tokyo Paralympics
World No. 1 para badminton star, Pramod Bhagat manages to emulate the feats of his idols - Sindhu and Saina as he wins gold at the Tokyo Paralympics.
In para badminton, India has been slowly but surely taking major leaps for the last few years and the key person accountable for such rave feats is Pramod Bhagat. The reigning World No. 1 and World Champion produced a heroic performance at the Tokyo Paralympics where para badminton made its debut. Ensuring India's dominance is given a head start in this event at the Paralympics, Pramod Bhagat won the gold medal after putting on a superb fight against Great Britain's Daniel Bethell. In a closely-fought encounter of the Men's Singles SL3 final where only half-court is allowed to be covered, it was Pramod Bhagat who pulled off a stunner to win 21-14, 21-17 in 45 minutes at the Yoyogi Stadium.
In India, glory at the Olympics in badminton had so far been fetched by only Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. While it was Nehwal to win the bronze in 2012 London Olympics, it was reigning World Champion PV Sindhu who became the first Indian woman to win 2 medals at the Olympics, winning a silver in Rio and a bronze in Tokyo. Together, Sindhu and Saina have undoubtedly inspired a whole nation and their conquests - far and wide, have helped put India make their stamp on the BWF as well as the Olympic circuit.
One among the many fans of these two pioneering women is also ace para shuttler, Pramod Bhagat, who is a legend in his field as well and looks up to both Saina and Sindhu, as a fellow player. A 4-time World Champion and a gold medallist from the 2018 Asian Para Games, the 33-year-old from Attabira, Odisha has just about every big title against his name in the Men's SL3 category and now with a Paralympic gold medal to his name, Bhagat is easily the GOAT of Indian para badminton!
Pramod Bhagat joins the league of his idols - PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal
Pramod, who was diagnosed with polio when he was just 5 has never been one to let his impairment create a setback and the countless medals and his ever-cheerful, spunky self stands proof to it. Growing to love badminton from a young age, Pramod found his calling in the sport and watched in wonder as Saina Nehwal became the first Indian shuttler to medal at the Olympics in 2012.
Nehwal's antics on the court during her heydays created a watershed moment in the history of Indian badminton as Nehwal, a former World No. 1 helped put India on the global map - a feat which Pramod Bhagat himself wanted to inspire and invoke. Having overcome great odds, Bhagat has also emerged as a huge force in para badminton, much like his idol Saina.
"Saina has been my inspiration for the longest time. What Saina did for badminton in 2012 (winning bronze at the London Olympics) is what I aim to do for para badminton. She has been a huge force in badminton, and has inspired millions to take up the sport," Pramod Bhagat had mentioned in an interview with the TOI.
If Nehwal had set the shuttle into play, it was PV Sindhu who kept the shuttle in motion and till now, she hasn't let it drop and this too, inspired Pramod Bhagat, who wanted to emulate the success of the World Champion shuttler.
"Sindhu has been the torch-bearer of Indian badminton for a long time now. Her displays at the 2016 and the 2020 Olympics have raised the benchmark and I would like to achieve a similar feat in Paralympics. Like her, I also want to inspire Indians to take up the sport. I really like the attitude Sindhu plays with and I try to incorporate things which I see in her game, which can help me improve my game," Bhagat had candidly mentioned about his desires.
With a Paralympic gold medal today and the chance of winning one more in the Mixed Doubles still on the horizon, Pramod Bhagat has finally joined the Olympic league with his idols and might just, surpass them soon with his grand efforts and definitely inspire people to pick up the sport more.