howing a great determination and grit in the entire campaign, ace para shuttler Pramod Bhagat won gold medal in the men’s singles SL3 category in Tokyo Paralympics. In a conversation with Kuldeep Singh of Orissa POST, the Odisha lad opens up on his post-Para Games life and his next step. Excerpts…
What would you say about your splendid feat in Tokyo?
I’m very happy after winning the gold in Tokyo. This journey was difficult. I’m happy that I could make my country and state proud. This is a big achievement for me.
What was going through your mind when you entered the court for the final?
People always think of wins when India play England in cricket. Same thing was in my mind, I wanted to win. I lost a match against a player from Great Britain a couple of years ago. I was a little confused about what to do in the final. But the moment I won the first set, I thought that I would win this game. The second round was tough but I kept my plans intact and secured the win.
From Attabira (Bargarh district) to gold in Tokyo. How would you describe this journey?
Every athlete struggles throughout his/her life. But I would say that as a para-athlete, the struggle becomes more rigorous. I was lucky to have a lot of support from my loved ones, people of my village, coaches as well as the governments. With the help of love and support I got from these people, I achieved my dreams.
You have achieved what you have dreamt for all these past years. However, you seem to be missing something despite achieving such a priceless feat?
It’s true. I’m missing my parents today. They had dreamt that I should become a world-class athlete and win a gold medal in the Paralympics. I won the gold but today they are not with me to live or cherish this moment. I wish they would be here with me. But I know that their blessings are always with me.
When you were conferred the Arjuna Award, you told us that you were focusing on the Paralympics. But now you have crossed that finish line on a high, what’s next?
I achieved my dream but you know human nature is like – you keep dreaming for one after another. Well, currently I’m enjoying my feat. After this my eyes are on the Paris 2023. And I’m hopeful that I will always have the support of the people of Odisha.
You’re going to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Do you have any specific things to ask for?
They have always supported and motivated me in my journey. It’s because of their support that I achieved my dreams. I’m excited to meet them and learn more things from them which would definitely help.