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Paddler Bhavinaben Patel wins historic silver at Tokyo Paralympics

PTI Tokyo | Updated on August 29, 2021

With this medal, Indian team opened its account at the Paralympic Games.

Bhavinaben Patel on Sunday became only the second Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympics after she signed off with a historic silver following a 0-3 loss to world number one Chinese paddler Ying Zhou in the women's singles table tennis class 4 final here.

The 34-year-old Patel's impressive run at the Games ended with a fighting 7-11 5-11 6-11 loss to Zhou, a two-time gold medallist, in the women's singles summit clash which lasted 19 minutes.

With this medal, Indian team opened its account at the Games.

Deepa Malik, who is the current president of Paralympic Committee of India (PCI), was the first Indian woman to win a medal in the Paralympic Games when she had claimed a silver in shotput at Rio five years back.

Patel, a wheelchair player, had also suffered a loss to Zhou, one of the most decorated para-paddlers of China, in her first group stage match earlier in the week.

Up against an opponent, who has five Paralympic medals to her name including gold medals in singles at Beijing and London, Patel seemed to struggle as she couldn't execute her strategy and was left to do the catch up job.

Zhou, a six-time World Championship medallist, didn't allow Patel, currently ranked 12th in her division, to find her angled returns and get into a rally.

In the first game, Zhou broke off from 3-3 to move ahead. Patel tried to keep herself within touching distance with a superb serve at 5-7 and a forehand flick but the Chinese managed to earn the bragging right with a deep push at the baseline.

The second game was a one-way traffic as Zhou jumped to a 7-1 lead early on. Patel narrowed it down to 4-7 but the Chinese soon grabbed a 2-0 lead.

Pushed to the brink, Patel tried to script a recovery as she moved neck and neck with her opponent till 5-5 in the third game. But Zhou once again moved ahead and sealed the contest with a backhand shot.

Patel, who was diagnosed with polio when she was 12 months old, had defeated world no 3 Miao Zhang of China 7-11 11-7 11-4 9-11 11-8 in the semifinal on Saturday.

In the quarterfinal on Friday, Patel had defeated 2016 Rio Paralympics gold medallist and world number two Borislava Peric Rankovic of Serbia to assure herself a medal and script history.

In para table tennis, classes 1-5 are for wheelchair athletes. Athletes in Class 4 category have fair sitting balance and fully functional arms and hands. Their impairment may be due to a lower spinal-cord lesion or cerebral palsy.

Patel started playing the sport 13 years ago at the Blind People's Association at Vastrapur area of Ahmedabad where she was a student of ITI for people with disabilities.

There, she saw visually impaired children playing table tennis and decided to take up the sport. She won her first medal in a competition while representing Rotary Club in Ahmedabad, where she is settled now after her marriage to Nikunj Patel, who has played junior cricket for Gujarat.

She reached world number two ranking in 2011 after winning a silver medal for India in PTT Thailand Table Tennis Championship. In October 2013, Patel won another silver in the women's singles Class 4 at the Asian Para table tennis championships in Beijing.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the country in congratulating paddler Bhavinaben Patel for winning a historic silver medal, India's first, in the ongoing Paralympic Games in Tokyo on Sunday.

Patel on Sunday became only the second Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympics after she signed off with a historic silver following a 0-3 loss to world number one Chinese paddler Ying Zhou in the women's singles table tennis class 4 final.

"Bhavina Patel inspires the Indian contingent and sportslovers winning silver at #Paralympics. Your extraordinary determination and skills have brought glory to India. My congratulations to you on this exceptional achievement," President Kovind tweeted.

The 34-year-old Patel's impressive run at the Games ended with a fighting 7-11 5-11 6-11 loss to Zhou, a two-time gold medallist, in the women's singles summit clash which lasted 19 minutes.

With this medal, Indian team opened its account at the Games.

President, PM lead country in congratulating Bhavinaben Patel for winning Paralympic silver

Prime Minister Modi said Patel's feat is a motivation for youngsters.

"The remarkable Bhavina Patel has scripted history! She brings home a historic Silver medal. Congratulations to her for it. Her life journey is motivating and will also draw more youngsters towards sports. #Paralympics," he tweeted.

Modi also spoke to Patel and congratulated her on the remarkable feat. He also wished her the very best for her future endeavours.

Patel hails from Sundhiya village in Vadnagar, Mehsana in Gujarat and Modi told her that he's been to Sundhiya often and enquired if her family is still there.

Bhavina told him that her Parents are still there.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also took to the social networking site to wish Patel on her success.

"Congratulations #BhavinaPatel on winning the Silver medal in #ParaTableTennis. Your perseverance and success shall shall as motivation for many," Sitharaman wrote on her handle.

Rahul Gandhi added: "Congratulations to Bhavina Patel for winning the #Silver . India applauds your achievement. You've done the nation proud." India's first individual gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra also saluted Patel's "mental resilence".

"Fantastic performance by @BhavinaPatel6 to bag a silver and open India's account in the #Tokyo2020 @Paralympics. Wonderful show of skill and mental resilience. Extremely proud! #Praise4Para," he tweeted alongwith a letter.

Deepa Malik, who is the current president of Paralympic Committee of India (PCI), was the first Indian woman to win a medal in the Paralympic Games when she had claimed a silver in shotput at Rio five years back.

Congratulating Patel for her medal, Malik said: "It is absolutely stunning to see Bhavina's performance, the way she has played the competition it has absolutely stunned the opponents.

"Her game, skill, patience, her coming back, the way she has kept her focus, it is beyond words, it is world class.

"This is the skill and calmness that has made her achieve the feat of silver at Paralympics and our silver girl has given this gift to the nation on national sports day, which is the most apt day to create history for any sports person." Malik said Patel has shattered the taboos around disability.

"On a personal level, I feel it is a passing on the baton. I always wanted women participation to come forward..so that we can create inclusively, shatter this stereotype and taboo around disability and Bhavina has just done that." Former cricketers Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble also congratulated the wheelerchair paddler for her historic medal.

"Congratulations to #BhavinaPatel for creating history by winning India's first silver medal in women's singles class 4 table tennis event at the ongoing #TokyoParalympics. A wonderful display of focus , hardwork and mental strength," Sehwag wrote.

Laxman tweeted: "Silver medal for India. Many Congratulations to #BhavinaPatel who has created history by becoming the first Indian para-paddler to win a medal in #Paralympics history." Kumble added: "Congratulations #BhavinaPatel Proud of you."

Published on August 29, 2021

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