Mumbai: India’s chances for medals in the next month’s Tokyo Paralympic Games got a boost with the country getting to field two more para-shuttlers after both got through based on bipartite quotas. Para-badminton is making its Paralympic debut in the Tokyo 2020 Games starting on August 24.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) awarded bipartite quota places to Suhas L. Yathiraj in men’s singles SL4 and Manoj Sarkar in men’s singles SL3, the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) said in a release on Friday.
Both Yathiraj and Sarkar will be part of the seven-member squad led by world No. 1 Pramod Bhagat.
The addition of the two para shuttlers also boosted India’s medal prospects 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 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,” chief national coach Gaurav Khanna said.
“It’s great to have two shuttlers each in the men’s SL3 category and men’s SL4 category which enhances our medal prospects. We wish to have the gold and silver in both the categories,” Khanna added.
Khanna, however, said he was disappointed as he expected more shuttlers to make the cut. “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.
“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,” Yathiraj, a bronze medallist at the 2018 Asian Para Games, was quoted as saying by PCI.
Sarkar added that “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.
PCI 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 well in international events in the past few years. And the inclusion of Suhas L. Yathiraj and Manoj Sarkar has increased our medal chances. I wish the entire team good luck.”