Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Reigning World Champion para shuttler Pramod Bhagat stormed into the SL3 men’s singles final of the badminton event in the Tokyo Paralympics after beating Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara in a semifinal match on Saturday.

The 33-year-old para shuttler from Odisha, who is also the World No.1 and current Asian Champion, registered an emphatic 21-11, 21-16 victory over Fujihara in the all important clash that lasted 36 minutes.

With badminton making its debut at the Paralympics this year, Bhagat became the first Indian to qualify for the gold medal clash in the mega competition.

Pramod will meet Danil Bethell in the summit clash later in the afternoon.

With only half of the court being used in this classification, the two players engaged in a lot of long rallies and Bhagat came up on top most of the time.

Top seed Bhagat lagged 2-4 early in the opening game but a series of overhead drops helped him claw back. The duo was 8-8 before the Indian entered the interval at 11-8. After the break, he continued his good run and eventually pocketed the opening game with six straight points.

It was Bhagat’s show in the second game as well as the Indian led all the way to come up with flying colours.
Bhagat will pair up with his partner Palak Kohli for their mixed doubles SL3-SU5 semifinals later in the day.

Bhagat, who had developed a defect on his left leg after contracting polio at the age of just five, has won a total of 45 international medals, including four World Championship golds.