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Pramod Bhagat: The GOAT Indian para-shuttler

World No.1 Indian para-shuttler Pramod Bhagat affirms that he has the “strongest mindset on the planet” as he aims to strike two gold medals at Tokyo Paralympics. Pramod Bhagat is a renowned name in the sports world who in an interview said that he is resolute to win a medal at the ongoing Tokyo Paralympics in order to popularize the sport in the country.”

For those of you who don’t know, Badminton as a sport will be played for the first time at the Paralympics. India has sent a seven-member strong squad that will represent India at the Games. The 33- year-old, Bhagat believes there is a huge responsibility on his shoulders to captivate the attention of the youth to the sport by performing well in Tokyo.

Prime Contender of Gold

He has qualified for Tokyo Paralympics in two categories — men’s singles SL3 and mixed doubles SL3-SU5 with Palak Kohli. SL3 implies minor standing or lower-limb impairment, while SU5 is for players with an impairment of the upper limb.

“I have been waiting for this day ever since I started my professional journey, and it is also the only medal which is missing from accomplishments…,” Bhagat, who was affected by polio at an early age, told PTI in an interview.

Bhagat says that his coach and trainer has worked extensively to train him for his upcoming feat. He is currently in his best shape with the “ strongest mindset on the planet.” He didn’t hesitate to mention that he had a few drawbacks which he is working on. 

Undoubtedly, there is a lot of expectation from World №1, the responsibility of which Bhagat understands fully as he aims to get India’s first gold in Paralympic badminton. 

“Also being No. 1 adds a lot of pressure of delivering at the world stage. I’m using that as motivation for myself to perform. We are hoping to win at least 3–4 medals for India.

Humble Beginnings

Bhagat was born in the small town of Attabira in Odisha, his father used to work in rice mills. Reading numerous articles on him and his interviews, I concluded one thing, that he has always been a dreamer, and certainly had a built-in sportsman in him.

Affected by Polio at the age of five years, he developed a defect in his left leg. But it did not stop him from pursuing his love for sports and his gradually growing passion for badminton. 

At the young age of 13, the game drew his attention when he went to watch a badminton match and was fascinated by the game. For the next 2 years, he was deeply immersed in the game with footwork, fitness, and fixture of the game. He would watch his school senior play and as he took up playing badminton, the interest turned into a full-fledged passion. He would practice religiously for hours. 

 Before moving towards para-badminton, Bhagat played with able-bodied players at the district level and even won a district-level competition.

As he began his journey in para-badminton, there was no turning back. Since then, Pramod has been on a winning feat, ‘smashing’ many records and winning multiple laurels. 

Before the pandemic, he made the country proud by winning gold in Men’s Singles category at the second Fazza Para-Badminton International 2019. T

Furthermore, the ace para shuttler won in the fifth Turkish Para-Badminton International- ENES CUP 2019 at Antalya in Turkey. He had also won two bronze medals in the last edition of the same tournament in 2018. In April, he bagged two gold and one silver medal at the IWAS World Games in Sharjah.

“Dubai was like a litmus test for all of us as we were playing a tournament after almost a year. It really tested us as irrespective of how much you practise, matches are a different ball game,” said Bhagat, who won the singles gold and also paired up with Manoj Sarkar to clinch the men’s doubles gold in SL4-SL3 category, according to the PTI report. 

“The last few years have been really good for me as I feel I am at my prime and playing very well. I am working towards maintaining that and practising very hard and also evolving,” he added.

Achievements

  • Bronze medals in singles and doubles events of Asian Para-Badminton Championship 2016.
  • Gold and silver medals in singles and doubles events of BWF Para-Badminton World Championship 2015.
  • Bronze in the singles event of the Asian Para Games in 2014.
  • Gold medal in the singles event of the IBAD Seven Luck World Championship 2009.
  • Silver and gold medals in singles and doubles events of the Asian Para Games 2009.
  • Gold medals in singles and doubles events of RYLA International Challenger Tournament 2007.

Paralympic Mode On

Bhagat is supported by GoSports Foundation for the Tokyo Paralympics and was training at the Sports Authority of India camp in Lucknow. With gold in his mind, he hopes that people navigate inspiration to venture more into the sport in India.

In his illustrious 15 years career, he has won over 100 national and international medals, including four gold medals at the World Championships. “Sometimes, I do feel proud of myself,” he laughs, in a media interview. 

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