BHUBANESHWAR: Indian shuttler Manoj Sarkar might have won bronze in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics but the medal is no less than gold for the athlete.
Manoj had won a bronze medal after defeating Japan's Daisuke Fujihara in the men's singles SL3 event at the Paralympics Games in Tokyo.
"To be honest Tokyo Bronze medal is a Gold for me because winning a medal for India at such a level is no mean feat. But this is also true that my dream hasn't been fulfilled and I'll try to do that in Paris 2024," Manoj Sarkar told ANI after winning his first game in the ongoing Para-Badminton National championship here in Bhubaneswar.
The Indian shuttler feels people's view towards the para-athletes and the specially-abled person has changed due to a remarkable show by the Indian contingent in the Tokyo Games.
"After my bronze medal, the vision of the countrymen has changed towards the specially-abled person. People used to call us 'persons with disability but now everyone calls us 'person with super ability and this is a big change," said Manoj Sarkar.
"Now more and more parents are recognizing talents in their children despite them being specially-abled and this is a big achievement for us as a country," he added.
Manoj Sarkar recently won the gold medal at Uganda Para-Badminton International in Kampala after defeating compatriot Pramod Bhagat.
"I and Pramod (bhaiya) often meet in finals of the tournament and whoever has his day wins the game. Most of the time Pramod has defeated me but in Uganda, I feel it was my day and my body was also responding well hence I came out with flying colours," Manoj said.
"In Uganda, the competition was tougher than the Paralympics as there were some new players also. In the SL3 category, most of the players in the top 10 categories are from India only," he added.
Despite the first match in men's singles, the SL3 category being a cakewalk for Manoj, the Indian shuttler is wary of the threat he might face in the upcoming games.
"There are athletes who will give a tough fight in the quarters and semis and I strongly feel there will thrilling encounters later in the day and tomorrow," Manoj signed off.