As Para Badminton is set to make debut at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo next month, India will send a strong seven-member squad after the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Friday granted two bipartite quotas to the country.
Para shuttlers Suhas L. Yathiraj 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 world no. 1 Pramod Bhagat.
The addition of the two para shuttlers also boosted India’s medal prospect in the two men’s singles categories. India already has Bhagat in men’s singles SL3 and Tarun Dhillon in men’s singles SL4 events.
“It’s wonderful to have 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 men’s SL3 category and men’s SL4 category which enhances our medal prospect. We wish to have the gold and silver in both the category,” chief national coach Gaurav Khanna said.
“A little bit disappointing though as I was expecting more shuttlers to qualify since they did well in the recent BWF events.”
An elated Yathiraj, who is the District Magistrate of Noida, Uttar Pradesh, was confident of winning a medal at Tokyo 2020.
‘Confident to win a medal in Tokyo’
“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 into it. I am very much confident to clinch a medal at Tokyo 2020,” said Yathiraj, a bronze medallist at 2018 Asian Para Games.
Meanwhile, Sarkar added that “it was a dream true to qualify for the Paralympics especially when the sport was making its debut”.
“There is a lot of expectations on me and I hope to live up to it in Tokyo. My target will be a podium finish at the Games and I will be out to win the gold,” added the former world no. 1.
Paralympic Committee of India President Dr. Deepa Malik was delighted over the two bipartite slots. “We are very happy with the latest development. Our para shuttlers have been doing really well in the international events in the past few years. And inclusion of Suhas L. Yathiraj and Manoj Sarkar have increased our medal chances. I wish them the entire team good luck.”
Men’s singles: Pramod Bhagat (SL3), Manoj Sarkar (SL3), Tarun Dhillon (SL4), Suhas L. Yathiraj (SL4), Krishna Nagar (SH6)
Women’s doubles: Parul Parmar and Palak Kohli (SL3-SU5)