By Sahil KohliNew Delhi [India], November 21 (ANI): Indian Para-badminton player and Paralympic gold medalist Pramod Bhagat expressed happiness with his performance in the recently-concluded Para Asian Games in Hangzhou and credited the central government for providing facilities that helped securing 100-plus medals in both Asian Games and Para Asian Games competition.
In the Asian Games held in Hangzhou from September 23 to October 8 onwards, India finished with 107 medals, including 28 gold, 38 silver and 41 bronze medals, crossing the 100-medal mark for the first time ever.
Just a few days later, the Indian para-athlete contingent also made history by hitting a century of medals, finishing with 111 medals in the Para Asian Games from October 22 to October 28, including 29 gold, 31 silver and 51 bronze medals.
Pramod shined in the Para Asian Games as well, securing a gold in men's singles competition and a bronze each in men's doubles (with Sukant Kadam) and mixed doubles competition (with Manisha Ramadass) at Hangzhou.
In an interview with ANI, Pramod talked about his performance in Para Asian Games, India crossing 100 medal mark in both Asian and Para Asian Games, the support provided by the government to athletes and his future ambitions.
On his performances in the Para Asian Games, Pramod said, "It feels good. It is my 4th Para Asian Games. In the last 2018 edition, I had a gold and bronze medal. I played in men's singles and doubles. I participated in three events this time and got a medal in all three. I feel really happy about this. My medals also played a role in helping India cross 100 medals this time, I am really happy about this as well."The athlete said that he is well aware of high expectations from him, given his status as a gold medalist in the Paralympics and World Championships and expressed slight disappointment with his performance in men's doubles competition.
"Everyone expects highly from me. That I go out and get gold. I performed well in singles and got the gold. I expected gold in the men's doubles competition as well. My mixed doubles partner is a youngster and plays singles. She does not have a lot of experience in doubles, that is why we fell short in mixed doubles. I expected a gold in men's doubles. I am a little dissatisfied with a men's doubles performance as we lost a closely fought match that we had won at one point. But that is a sport. You win some and lose some," said Pramod.
Pramod credited the centre for its support in helping athletes cross the 100-medal mark in both the Asian Games and Para Asian Games, saying that once players get everything and their needs are attended to, they go to the field with a free mind and play well.
"The credit goes to the government as they have provided us para-athletes with schemes like Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), Khelo India. We are also given opportunities to train abroad and our needs are attended to really well. There is a lot of awareness about para-athletes at the moment in the country. This sparked some energy in para-athletes to do really well in their competitions. State governments have also helped well," he said.
"The entire country is supporting us. When we got 107 medals in the Asian Games, we para-athletes were also motivated to perform well and get over 100 medals. The motto of "Iss baar 100 paar" (Crossing 100 medals this time) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taken really seriously and we worked on it. When you have everything, you get training, equipment etc, you go with a free mind and play well. That is why we could get 111 medals," he added.
On his equation with men's doubles partner Sukant Kadam, with whom he has won a lot of Badminton World Federation (BWF) para-Badminton titles as well, Pramod said that they have trained and practiced together and share a great bond with each other.
"Sukant is a singles player. The players who are my partners play a lot of singles competition as well. He is a youngster and we have practiced together a lot. We trained abroad as well. We share a very good bond. It was not our day when we got a bronze medal (in the Para Asian Games). But we are world number one as a duo. I am not happy with my performance, but we want to perform well in the World Championships. We are working on our weaknesses," he said. (ANI)