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Bhagat targets gold at Tokyo

Always enjoyed being pushed to the limit, says badminton star

World No. 1 Pramod Bhagat, who will be one of the main contenders from India in Tokyo Paralympics badminton (SL4 category — standing/lower limb impairment/severe) starting from Aug. 25, said he was determined to make India and all those who believed in his abilities proud by winning a gold.

“Yes, the target will be gold for sure as the preparations were really good,” Bhagat said in a chat with The Hindu before leaving for Tokyo.

Improving standards

“Over the years the standard of para badminton has been improving constantly but I have always enjoyed and gave off my best when pushed to the limits,” he said.

“To take part in Paralympics had been my dream since I started playing badminton. I am conscious of the pressure factor . I will be competing in men’s singles and mixed doubles (partnering Palak Kohli),” Bhagat said.

“The Paralympics, just like the Olympics is the biggest stage for any sportsperson to deliver. Honestly, I never thought I would reach thus far, it is a huge honour for me to represent country in these Games,” he said.

“Winning gold in 2018 Asian championship and the 2019 Worlds are some of the highs of my career,” he said.

“In my category, all Indians are in the top 10 and all of us are constantly playing well. We train together and our dedication level is also high. We are one team and we strategies and help together,” he explained.

“Being World No. 1 is very important for it makes me feel that I have been competing and winning at the top level for some time now. Still it all boils down to how well you perform every game as it is a knockout format,” Bhagat said.

Morale-booster

“Yes, winning Dubai Para championship gold before Tokyo is a huge morale-booster for it was the first major after the pandemic,” he said.

“I am thankful to the Odisha Government and the Government of India for constantly supporting me through this journey and winning a Paralympics gold will be a fitting gift to all those who supported me,” Bhagat said.

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