BHUBANESWAR: Reigning world champion and Odisha’s very own Pramod Bhagat on Saturday created history by winning a gold medal in Men’s singles SL3 class at the Tokyo Paralympics.
This year, badminton made its debut at the Paralympics. The first ever Indian to win gold in badminton, 33-year-old Bhagat’s success has come as a crowning glory for Odisha in a year of Olympic achievements; the Olympic bronze by the Men’s hockey team and stellar display by the women’s team being the other two.
Bhagat dedicated the medal to his parents. He had lost his mother last year. “I would like to dedicate this to my parents and to everyone who has supported me throughout. I am glad I could make India and Odisha proud,” Bhagat told The New Indian Express from Tokyo.
His historic feat at Tokyo, the best ever success for any sportsman from Odisha, has sent in a wave of jubilation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and many more eminent persons took to Twitter to congratulate Bhagat.
Pramod shines bright with a Paralympic Gold
“A moment etched in gold. Odisha’s Pramod Bhagat has made the whole country proud. Wish him more success in future,” Naveen said on the micro-blogging site. Bhagat won the first game with ease but came back from a large deficit in the second to beat Great Britain’s Daniel Bethell 21-14, 21-17 in straight games. “This is very special to me; it’s a dream come true. Bethell really pushed me but I kept my calm and played to my strength,” he said.
From polio afflicted at the age of five to Para Olympic gold, Bhagat’s has been a journey of unwavering determination. Bhagat, who belongs to Attabira in Bargarh district, picked up the racket despite being afflicted by polio in the left leg at the age of five. His keenness to pursue badminton as a career led him to compete in the para badminton.
Behind Bhagat’s success has been his coach Siba Prasad Das’ relentless pursuit to push his student to strive for excellence. When the young shuttler was about 13-14, Das took Bhagat under his wings at Nalco Nagar in Angul. An employee with the aluminium major, Das trained Bhagat as bigger things awaited him.
In 2007, he won his first international single’s medal after picking up a bronze in the Para Badminton World Championship at Bangkok.
Two years later, the first world championship gold came at Seoul. Bhagat went on to add three more golds at the world championships in 2013, 2015 and 2019. He also bagged the gold at Asian Para Games in the men’s singles besides a bronze in doubles. His kitty now has a total of 45 international medals, the Para Olympic gold being the shiniest.
“A dream has come true, and today I am proud as Pramod Bhagat’s coach. In the last match against Daniel Bethell during Japan Para Badminton International 2019 at the same venue, he suffered defeat. But in today’s final, he played like a true world No 1”, coach Das said. The family is ecstatic too. “I am extremely happy as my brother kept his word and made the country proud. Today I am missing our mother,” said younger brother Sekhar Bhagat.