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Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Tokyo Paralympics: Para badminton star Manoj Sarkar will face-off against "big brother" Pramod Bhagat

Featuring an all-Indian clash, badminton at the Tokyo Paralympics will get underway with friends Manoj Sarkar and Pramod Bhagat locking horns.

Para Badminton stars Pramod Bhagat and Manoj Sarkar

Pramod Bhagat and Manoj Sarkar will face-off at the Tokyo Paralympics


Sohinee Basu

Updated: 31 Aug 2021 1:34 PM GMT

So far, the Tokyo Paralympics has seen an exceptional run by the Indian contingent with 8 medals already being collected and still a good five days remaining at hand and several more events on offer. One of India's key medal hopes lie in para badminton - where India has sent a 7-member strong contingent studded with World Champion and top-ranked players who are familiar with medalling at the biggest of stages.

All the para badminton action will take place at the Yoyogi National Stadium from the 1st of September, 2021 and for the Indians, it begins with a blockbuster clash as World No. 1 player, Pramod Bhagat has to face-off against his fellow countryman and teammate, Manoj in the Men's Singles SL3 event.

Both Manoj as well as Pramod are in good shape and are eyeing medals as they will lock horns with each other in the Group A Play stage match. While Pramod is the top seed and a 5-time gold medallist at the World Championships, Manoj has been a 3-time World Champion as well. Quite the clash to set the mood for the coming days of badminton action, Manoj and Pramod will square off against each other in a friends-turned-opponents battle that is much-awaited.

"Pramod Bhagat is like an elder brother to me. I call him bade bhaiyya (big brother). He is always there to help me with my game, and we have played doubles together too," Manoj, a former World No. 1 himself, candidly mentioned in an exclusive interview with The Bridge, when asked about his thoughts on being placed in the same group - Group A as his current World No. 1 friend, Pramod.

"There is no rivalry between us, not even when we are on the court. Yes, we are competitive but we are friendly when we play against each other. You would not see us going at each other and losing tempers when we play. And when he play against each other, I won't lie, he wins mostly," Manoj Sarkar confessed with a chuckle.

Both Manoj and Pramod have faced off against each other 9 times in their career so far and as per Manoj said, it is true - Pramod has had the last word on more occasions than the 31-year-old from Uttarkhand. Meanwhile, the Odisha star from Attabira, Pramod has won 5 times and Manoj has only been able to get the better off the 33-year-old Bhagat on 4 occasions. With such a rivalry on-court, it can be expected that there will be fireworks as the duo clash at the Yoyogi Stadium in their opening match at the Tokyo Paralympics.

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