India is assured of at least a Paralympic silver medal, as table tennis star Bhavina Patel takes on World No 1 Chinese paddler Ying Zhou in the summit clash on Sunday. After winning the semi finals clash, Bhavina said that she doesn’t consider herself as disabled and her performance at the Tokyo Games proves that “nothing is impossible”.
With Bhavina’s brilliant campaign at Tokyo, she is set to became the first Indian to enter the final of a table tennis event in the Paralympics and will soon be the first to win a medal.
“…I don’t consider myself as disabled, I am always confident I can do anything and today I also proved that we are not behind and para table tennis is as ahead as other sports,” said Patel, who was diagnosed with polio when she was 12 months old.
She reached the final with a hard-fought 3-2 win over China’s Miao Zhang in a class 4 semifinal on Saturday. The 34-year-old from Gujarat stunned her world no. 3 Chinese opponent 7-11 11-7 11-4 9-11 11-8 in the semifinal showdown that lasted 34 minutes.
“I fought against China and it is always said that it is difficult to win against China. Today I proved that nothing is impossible, you can do everything…” This was Patel’s first victory against the former world number one Zhang. The two players had met 11 times before.
Competing in her maiden Paralympics, Patel lost the opening game in a tight contest. But, she made a strong recovery, claiming the next two games. She competes in the Class 4 category. This category includes athletes who have fair sitting balance and fully functional arms and hands. Their impairment may be due to a lower spinal-cord lesion or cerebral palsy.
Also read: Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games full medal table
“My schedule used to start at 4 AM and I used to focus more on my mind, through meditation and yoga I learnt to keep myself calm. During matches, sometimes we make mistakes in a hurry and we lose points but I could control my thoughts today,” she said.
“I want to thank the coaches, who taught me tricks and technique because of them I have been able to reach here.” Patel also acknowledged the support that she received from different quarters.
“When a player doesn’t get financial support, it becomes difficult to move ahead in sport because the expenses of playing tournaments are so huge and it is difficult to afford for a middle class family but SAI, TOPS, PCI, government, OGQ, Blind People’s Association, my family, all have supported me.”