India to double medal total at Paris Paralympic Games: Pramod Bhagat

Tokyo Paralympic Games gold-medalist commuter Pramod Bhagat said on Friday he was confident India would double its medal count at the prestigious multisport event in Paris in just three years.

India came back with their best performance of the Tokyo Paralympics, winning 19 medals – five gold, eight silver, six bronze. The country’s previous best tally at any Paralympic Games was four.

“I am convinced that the number of medals will double (in Paris in 2024),” said three-time world champion Bhagat, who won yellow metal in the SL3 class in men’s singles, during a roundtable in ‘India Today Conclave ‘.

“Our Premier fully supports the athletes. The PCI takes good care of its athletes, if the PM is with us and the facilities are given, it is possible…. “

Bhagat, who contracted polio at the age of 4, took up sports after watching his neighbors play.

Initially, he faced able-bodied players before entering competitive para-badminton in 2006.

“The struggles of life teach us a lot and what we can accomplish,” said world number one Bhagat.

“It’s important to know how much we trust ourselves and not how much we train or play… It’s important to know how you make up your mind and move on. “

Suhas Yathiraj, the first-ever Indian IAS officer to win a medal at the Paralympic Games, described the Tokyo Paralympic Games as a watershed moment, saying they can give Paralympic sports a big boost, as well as winning the 1983 World Cup for cricket in the country.

Yathiraj won the silver medal in the SL4 men’s singles badminton event in Tokyo.

“1983 was a turning point for Indian cricket when Kapil dev won the world cup. Likewise, 2020 Tokyo is a watershed moment for the Indian Paralympic Games. You will see a radical change in attitude, ”said Yathiraj, the district magistrate of Noida.

“I see a huge difference in the way people perceive… nothing succeeds like success. The way the country celebrates Olympic and Paralympic medals is very good… awareness is gradually increasing. “

Table tennis player Bhavina Patel, who captured a historic silver medal on her Tokyo Paralympic Games debut, said she feared qualifying for the Tokyo Games when the pandemic struck and recalled the challenges she faced.

“It was a big challenge during the pandemic. First I had to qualify for the Paralympis. With great difficulty I was able to qualify for the Paralympic Games, ”said Patel, who became only the second Indian athlete to win a medal at the Paralympic Games.

“Outside of training, fitness was a challenge, but I was able to overcome them. During the pandemic it was a blessing, I trained a lot and planned a lot for each player. “

India’s Paralympic Committee President Deepa Malik said accessibility would be key to the development of parasports in the country.

“Accessibility is not only physical, it must also be in the state of mind. Unless you tap into the base and create more accessible and universally accessible arenas, it will always be chicken and egg, ”she said.

“Which comes first, more talent or infrastructure. We really need to work at the district level and on state policies. Thanks to these 19 medals, many states have revised their parasport policies. “

Malik said she was thrilled when Bhavina Patel won a silver medal at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

“Bringing home the first medal was kind of a paradox for me because it had taken our country 72 years to create a female Paralympic medalist,” said Malik, who won a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. .

“And I was the most ecstatic when Bhavina (Patel) won a medal. I said I’m not alone here now I have another silver smile shining on the tricolor

“I am very proud that we are back with 19 medals. From 19 in Rio in 2016 to 54 in Tokyo. From 2 girls to 14 girls, we have come a long way… ”, she added.

Gaurav Khanna, National Head Coach, India’s Para-Badminton Team, was also present at the event.