As the #cheer4India campaign is trending on Twitter as we near Tokyo Olympics, let us take a moment of pride in positive news for the next set of crucial games, post-Olympics — the Tokyo Paralympics.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has allowed two bipartite quotas to the country, the Paralympic Committee of India PCI) said in a release on Friday and the two players inducted are Suhas L Yathiraj and Manoj Sarkar. Para-badminton is all set to make its grand debut at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo next month, and a strong seven-member squad from India is ready. The two para shuttlers will level up India’s medal probabilities in the two men’s singles categories.
Para shuttler Suhas L Yathiraj, who is also the District Magistrate of Noida, Uttar Pradesh has been granted the quota in men’s singles SL4 while Manoj Sarkar has made the cut in men’s singles SL3, and will be joining the team led by the world no. 1 Pramod Bhagat.
The Men’s singles Team has Pramod Bhagat (SL3), Manoj Sarkar (SL3), Tarun Dhillon (SL4), Suhas L. Yathiraj (SL4), Krishna Nagar (SH6) whereas the Women’s doubles team has Parul Parmar and Palak Kohli (SL3-SU5).
India already has world no.1 Bhagat in men’s singles SL3 and Tarun Dhillon in the men’s singles SL4 events. “It’s wonderful to have a strong presence at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Indian para shuttlers are doing very well in international events including Asian Para Games and World Championships, and now this is the time to lead the show in the Paralympics. It’s great to have two shuttlers each in the men’s SL3 category and men’s SL4 category, enhancing our medal prospects. We wish to have the gold and silver in both the categories,” chief national para-badminton coach Gaurav Khanna said, according to TOI.
Yathiraj expressed his disappointment at the fewer number of para shuttlers qualifying for the BWF events but was confident of winning a Tokyo 2020. “Being the DM of Noida, it was a very challenging time during the Pandemic. But I never gave up on my training and devoted all my focus and time to it. I am very much confident to clinch a medal at Tokyo 2020,” said Yathiraj, a bronze medallist at the 2018 Asian Para Games, according to reports.
Meanwhile, for Sarkar, it was a dream come true to qualify for the Paralympics especially when the sport was making its debut. “There are a lot of expectations on me and I hope to live up to them in Tokyo. My target will be a podium finish at the Games and I will be out to win the gold,” said the former world no. 1, according to reports.
The induction of two players enhances the Indian chances to secure a medal at the much-awaited event. The PCI president is getting the word spread to create more and more awareness about the event and is delighted with the latest developments and securing two bipartite slots. “We are very happy with the latest development. Our para shuttlers have been doing really well in international events in the past few years. And the inclusion of Suhas L. Yathiraj and Manoj Sarkar have increased our medal chances. I wish the entire team good luck,” a report said.