India’s Pramod Bhagat made a strong comeback to defeat England’s Daniel Bethell and clinch his third title in the men’s singles SL3 category at the BWF Para Badminton World Championships here on Sunday.
It was world no. 1 Bhagat’s second gold in this World Championships having won his men’s doubles SL3-4 title on the penultimate day of the competitions.
Interestingly in that match, he and his partner Manoj Sarkar came from a game down to defeat compatriots Nitesh Kumar and Tarun Dhillon 14-21, 21-15, 21-16 in the final.
SL3 category is meant for players who have minor standing/lower limb impairment while SL4 is for those who have severe conditions of SL3.
Overall, India finished with 12 medals, including three gold. Though the total number of medals is same as in 2015 Worlds, but back then India had four gold, making it the best ever show.
On Sunday, Bhagat bettered his winning record against the Englishman Bethell to 3-1 this season with a 6-21, 21-14, 21-5 scoreline in the final that lasted almost an hour.
Unlike the first game, Bhagat relied more on his rallies and half smashes to emerge winner in the next two. Having worked on his fitness in the recent past, it also added to his cause.
“I took time to find my rhythm and thus started slow in the first game. But in the second game, I increased the pace and tried controlling the match. I have played Bethell many times, so knew it will be a tough match. I am happy to finish on the winning side and take my third singles gold,” Bhagat said.
“The only thing that crossed my mind after I lost the first game was that I need to make a comeback. The win here was important in terms of Tokyo2020 qualification points and also for my confidence.”
With this win, his sixth singles gold this year, Bhagat extended his stranglehold in the SL3 category.
In the men’s singles SL4 final, however, Tarun Tarun was forced to retire with a twisted leg midway first game against France’s world no. 1 Lucas Mazur. The Indian was leading 14-13 when he retired hurt and settled for his second silver in the championships.
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