Paralympian Pramod Bhagat on how Sachin Tendulkar inspired him
- Pramod Bhagat beat Great Britain's Daniel Bethell in the final at the Paralympics
- On meeting Tendulkar, Bhagat gifted him his winnings racquet
- At the Paralympics, Indian shuttlers won as many as four medals
Pramod Bhagat who won an elusive gold medal at the recently-concluded Tokyo Paralympics said that India cricket great Sachin Tendulkar's calm demeanour inspired him, adding that he started emulating Tendulkar. The 33-year-old shuttler, who was diagnosed with polio when he was 4-years-old, beat Great Britain's Daniel Bethell in the SL3 class finals by overcoming an eight-point deficit in the second game.
"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," the reigning world champion told PTI.
"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 World Championships," the shuttler added.
Bhagat met Tendulkar after returning from Tokyo. He gifted his racquet, which he used in the final to Tendulkar, who gave him an autographed tee-shirt and his autobiography book.
"I have always been inspired by Sachin, 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."
Bhagat, who hails from Attabira in Odisha's Bargarh district, feels that his gold medal at the Paralympics has will inspire others.
"When I started badminton in 2005, I used to feel there is no future but I won in 2009 world championship title and once BWF recognised para-badminton, things changed slowly," he said.
"But there was not much recognition for para-badminton and somehow I knew that a gold at Paralympics may get me recognition and I should say I am overwhelmed with all the attention."
At the Paralympics, Indian shuttlers won as many as four medals, including two gold, a silver and a bronze.
Bhagat, who has over 45 international medals under his belt, including four world championship gold medals and a gold and a bronze in the 2018 Asian Para Games, said time has come for para shuttlers to dominate the world.
"It is just a start for us. The struggle time is over now and it's time to step up and achieve more," he said.