India's Krishna Nagar won gold in the men's singles SL6 category at the Tokyo Paralympics after defeating Hong Kong's Chu Man Kai 21-17, 16-21, 21-17 in the final on Sunday. This is India's second gold in badminton at these Games. Pramod Bhagat had also won gold in the men's singles SL3 category yesterday.
Suhas Lalinakere Yathriraj also won silver in the men's singles SL4 category after losing to top seed Lucas Mazur 21-15, 17-21, 15-21 in the final in Tokyo on Sunday. France's Mazur is the reigning world champion and has won gold in this category at the last two World Championships. Suhas had earlier lost 15-21, 17-21 to Mazur in the group stage as well in Tokyo.
Earlier, Tarun Dhillon lost 17-21, 11-21 to Indonesia's Fredy Setiawan in the bronze medal match in the same category. Bhagat and Palak Kohli also lost a closely-contested bronze medal match 21-23, 19-21 to Japan's Daisuke Fujihara and Akiko Sugino in the mixed doubles SL3-SU5 classification as India ended their badminton campaign with two golds, one silver and one bronze medal.
On Saturday, Nagar, seeded second, dished out a superlative performance, outplaying Great Britain's Krysten Coombs 21-10, 21-11 in the semifinals.
"Olympics or Paralympic medal is a huge thing. We committed that we will win 5-6 medals and we have won 4 medals. One or two performances was little up and down but we will improve on that front in upcoming events," the 22-year-old said. "Competing is a big achievement in Paralympics and we won a medal in the first edition itself. We are blessed, it is a great achievement."
Talking about the match, Nagar said: "My mindset was that I have to be positive... I didn't make many errors during the match but in the second game, when there were some negatives, I was under pressure when things got away a bit. "For drift, I lost the second game, I was not able to play to my strength. But in the third game, there were ups and downs but I managed it well in the end."
This is the first time that badminton is being played at the Paralympics.
Suhas had won three of his five matches this week, with his only losses coming against Mazur. All his three wins came without dropping a game.
"Very emotional (moment). I have never been so happy and so disappointed in my life at the same time. Most happy because of the silver medal but most disappointed because I missed the gold medal by a whisker," Suhas said after winning the match in a video message posted by the Paralympic Committee of India.
"But destiny gives what I deserve and probably I deserve silver medal so I am happy for that at least."
India now has won four medals in badminton in Tokyo. Manoj Sarkar also won bronze in the men's singles SL3 category on Saturday.
Nagar's medal is India's fifth gold of these Paralympic Games after Avani Lekhara in the women's 10m air rifle standing SH1 event, Sumit Antil in the men's javelin throw F64 category, Manish Narwal in the mixed 50m pistol SH1 event and Bhagat.
India's five golds are easily their most in a single edition of the Paralympics. They had previously won four golds across 11 editions that they participated in from 1968 to 2016.
Suhas had earlier outwitted Setiawan 21-9, 21-15 in 31 minutes in the first semifinal in the category on Saturday. Mazur had managed to stave off a spirited effort from Dhillon in his last match, claiming a narrow 21-16, 16-21, 21-18 win over the second-seeded Indian in a grueling semifinal that lasted an hour and three minutes at the Yoyogi National Stadium.
Officially, India's medals tally at the Tokyo Paralympics now stands at 19 medals, including five golds, eight silvers and six bronzes. Their previous best was four medals at the Stoke Mandeville and New York Paralympics in 1984 and Rio Paralympics in 2016.
Diagnosed with dwarfism when he was just two years old, Nagar took up badminton as a hobby in 2017. He soon learned about para badminton as a sport and started competing professionally. He won bronze at the 2018 Asian Para Games, and another bronze at the 2019 Para Badminton World Championships.
Earlier this year, he also won two gold medals at the Para Badminton International in Dubai. The 22-year-old from Rajasthan is currently ranked No. 2 in the world.
Suhas is an IAS officer of 2007 UP cadre and is currently the district magistrate (DM) of Gautam Budhh Nagar, UP. His gold in the Asia Championships 2016 came when he was serving as the DM of Azamgarh - he was the first-ever serving Indian bureaucrat to represent and win a medal for India at a global level. He played badminton at school level and at the civil services academy before taking it up on a more serious note due to the encouragement of peers and family. He is a self-taught, self-coached player. He has an impairment on one of his ankles.
Dhillon grew up with dreams of becoming a cricketer but a poorly-treated accident to his right leg resulted in an eventual deformity that ended those dreams. He discovered badminton just a year later and went on to excel in it. Dhillon won gold at the 2013 World Championships in Germany at the age of 19. He also won gold in the SL4 men's singles and a bronze in doubles (SL3-SUS) at the 2018 Asian Para Games and a silver in the SL4 men's singles at the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea. Dhillon is also a two-time world champion in the sport, winning the men's singles title in 2015 as well.