New Delhi: Paralympics gold medallist Pramod Bhagat has attributed his calm on-court demeanour under pressure to the inspiration he took from the sportsmanship and graceful behaviour exhibited by the iconic cricketer Sachin Tendulkar in his career. Bhagat is also the reigning World Champion.
The 33-year-old Indian showed great mental fortitude as he recovered from an eight-point deficit in the second game in the final to come up trumps against his opponent Great Britain.
“I used to play cricket during childhood. During that time we used to watch cricket on Doordarsan and I was always fascinated by Sachin Tendulkar’s calm demeanour, the way he conducted himself and it had a big influence on me,” Bhagat told this agency Sunday.
“I started following him. His sportsmanship influenced me a lot. So when I started playing, I followed the same thought process and it helped me to make some memorable comeback in many matches, including the World Championships. When I was 4-12 down in second game of the final, I was confident that I can recover and so I could hold my nerves, stay calm and comeback and win,” added Odisha’s para shuttler.
Bhagat met Tendulkar after returning to India from Tokyo. He gifted his racquet, which he used in the final to Tendulkar. The latter gave him an autographed tee-shirt and his autobiography.
“I have always been inspired by Sachin Sir, right from childhood, so it was a big moment for me when I met him. He told me about the balance of life and sports. It was a dream come true moment,” informed Bhagat.
Bhagat said he didn’t see any future in the sport when he started but now he feels overwhelmed with the response that his gold medal has generated.
“There was not much recognition for para badminton earlier. However, I knew that a gold at Paralympics may get me recognition and I should say I am overwhelmed with all the attention,” added India’s first gold medallist in badminton at the Paralympics.
Bhagat has over 45 international medals under his belt, including four World Championship gold medals and a gold and a bronze in 2018 Asian Para Games. He said time has come for Indian para shuttlers to dominate the world. “I am sure we will dominate next year’s Asian Games and also the 2024 Paralympics,” he asserted.