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Decision-making and stamina: The key factors behind Pramod Bhagat's Tokyo 2020 Paralympics success

Bhagat became the first Indian para-badminton player to clinch a gold medal at the Paralympics.
By Samrat Chakraborty

Reigning world champion Pramod Bhagat lived up to his billing to become the first Indian para-badminton player to clinch a gold medal at the Paralympics in Tokyo on Saturday. He defeated Daniel Bethell of Great Britain 21-14, 21-17 in the men's singles SL3 final to finish top of the podium.

Bhagat, 33, however faced a stern challenge from his opponent in the second game as he trailed 4-11 at the mid-game interval before closing the game in 45 minutes. He admitted that it was his decision-making and execution in playing the right shots and his stamina that helped him prevail over his opponent.

"I believe it is not the technique and skill but the brain which should work in the right direction. It is important to execute the right technique and the right situation. If you use your brain then you will definitely become a champion," Bhagat said in a media interaction.

"Sir (Gaurav Khanna) thought that my strokes were good but I need to work on my stamina (before Tokyo Paralympics). And that is what made the difference today (in the gold medal match). Because I not only used my skills but also relied on my stamina. That is why even after trailing 4-11 in the second game, I could take the match," he added.

Pramod Bhagat celebrates winning moment 
Picture by Kiyoshi Ota/ Getty Images

The three-time World Champion, moreover, doesn't believe in taking undue pressure and admitted that he hardly thinks about his next match and completely switches off.

"I have only one thought: 'I am the best'. Coach sir (Gaurav Khanna) told me that I can win the match from here (trailing in the second game). I stayed calm and cleverly utilized my skills to overcome the situation," the Bhubaneshwar-based player said.

"I've a different mindset. I like to remain calm. I only think about the match when I'm playing it, not outside the court. I never disappoint my nation and give my 200 percent in the game," he added.

The inspirational para-shuttler wants youngsters to remain focused on their goals and work hard without thinking about the results. He will have another shot at glory in Tokyo Paralympics with his mixed doubles partner Palak Kohli in a bronze medal match on Sunday.