By Anuj MishraKampala [Uganda], November 22 (ANI): Indian shuttler Pramod Bhagat, who clinched gold in the Tokyo Paralympics, is happy that future generations will not have to suffer the fate he went through due to the absence of para-badminton in the Olympic Games.
The discipline made its debut in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics and the Indian contingent came out with flying colours -- winning four medals in the showpiece event. However, the road to Tokyo wasn't as easy and Pramod had to wait for almost 12 years to take the field in the showpiece event.
With the introduction of women's singles SL3, women's singles SH6, and mixed doubles SH6 event for Paris Games announced by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) last week, Pramod is confident that young athletes won't have to gulp the pain of not being able to showcase their skills in the megaevent.
"I have waited for almost 12 years for the sport to be introduced in Paralympics and in Tokyo 2020 the sport got introduced finally. Building upto the tournament there had been a lot of buzz about the sport and with the performance and the total number of medals won, the buzz has continued," Pramod Bhagat told ANI on the sidelines of the Uganda Para-Badminton International event.
"I am very happy that we are doing everything to promote the game, My only wish is that the newer generations who take up the sport should not have to suffer the way I had to," he added.
The introduction of new categories will for the first time see an equal number of singles events for men and women, and equal athlete representation with 60 players across each gender.
Pramod is quick to point that women too need to be given an equal platform to showcase their skills.
"It goes without saying that this is a very good decision, we need to give an equal platform to women also. We are athletes and are followed by many people if we don't set precedent others will not follow," said Pramod.
"I have always believed women should be given equal opportunity and most importantly should be respected," he added.
The 33-year-old athlete also said the introduction of new categories will further increase India's medal prospects in the Paris Games.
"Indian para-shuttlers have been consistently doing well on the world stage for some time now and this introduction will surely give us a platform to come back with more medals for India from Paris 2024," said Pramod.
Indian shuttler Sukant Kadam, who won a gold medal in the Uganda Para-Badminton International event, feels the move by the Paralympic Committee will act as a catalyst in the growth of the sport.
"Para badminton as a sport is growing slowly. Since the closure of Tokyo 2020, the sport has been in constant spotlight and news for all the right reasons. The sport is growing slowly and this move by the Paralympic Committee will only boost the sport," said Sukant.
In the same tournament, Pramod ended up winning a silver medal in the men's singles SL3 event. Pramod also won a silver in the men's doubles SL3-SL4 event alongside Manoj Sarkar. Bhagat bagged his third silver alongside Palak Kohli in the mixed doubles SL3-SU5 event. (ANI)