Beating doubles partner is para shuttler Sarkar’s new goal

Bronze medalist Manoj Sarkar in Tokyo Paralympic’s goal is now to defeat Pramod Bhagat as number one in the world. Sarkar, 32, has lost to Bhagat, the Paralympic gold medalist in Tokyo, seven times at international level in 11 meetings.

The losses at the 2019 World Cup and the Paralympics in Tokyo 2021 hurt Sarkar the most. He does not want a repeat of the World Cup and Asian Para Games later this year.

“I work hard on this aspect. It hurts my development a lot. I have the confidence to beat him at the upcoming championships. But for that I have to work on my mental strength,” said Sarkar alongside a training session in Lucknow.

“We are friends in doubles and I carry that feeling for singles events. That should not be the case. Recently a friend told me about this mental barrier and told me what I should do to overcome Bhagat,” said Sarkar, who hails from Uttarakhand.

Sarkar lost to Bhagat in the group stage of Group A at the Paralympics in Tokyo 10-21, 23-21, 9-21. Before that, it was 18-21, 16-21 at the 2019 World Cup in Basel.

“On both occasions, I tried my best, but the mental barrier of playing against ‘big brother’ Bhagat prevented me from winning,” said Sarkar, who has 13 international medals.

Of his three gold medals at the world championships in the SL3 category, he won two partner Bhagat at the 2013 and 2019 editions. In 2015, Sarkar won the gold medal in doubles with Anand Kumar Boregowda in Stoke Mandeville, England.

“I have been asked to only treat Bhagat as an opponent when I play in the singles, and there should be no other thought. I take the help of a psychologist to become mentally strong. I am sure that at the Asian Para Games (11 -October 16 in Hangzhou) and the World Cup (November 1-6 in Tokyo), I would be ready to challenge Bhagat because I want to win a gold medal in singles as well, said Sarkar.

Sarkar said he also needed to work on his speed and placement against his experienced rival. “Bhagat has a very good speed and ability to cover the course well, and I work on this aspect as well,” he said.

Sarkar said his mother got him his first racket for 10 when he was two years old because his cousins ​​never allowed him to touch their rackets. “In fact, the day I grabbed my own racket, I only had a dream of beating my cousins, and I did soon. That win ignited my passion for the sport.”

Sarkar, who suffers from a condition of the lower extremities (polio) since childhood, used to see his seniors play badminton on an open court at the Adarsh ​​Indira Bangali Colony in Rudrapur while sitting on a wall outside.

Sarkar also said that he used his mother’s sari as a badminton net when he played with friends on the open field. “We could not afford a net,” Sarkar said, adding, “I painted and did a lot of other housework to buy shuttles.”

“I knew nothing about para-badminton but I am passionate about the sport. I would beat physically fit children so easily, but I never came to them because of my disability. In 2007 I defeated 22 children in my school. Only then was I selected for the state championship . ”

However, Sarkar thanked the coach DK Sen, father of the second in the badminton world championship Lakshya Sen, who advised him to try his luck in parabadminton.

“Then Sir’s advice changed my world when he told me I had the potential to play for India and win medals at the Paralympics. He gave (phone) the number to national parabadminton coach Gaurav Khanna,” said Sarkar.

He also said he did not leave the pitch when he first got a chance to play indoors in Kashipur. “It was fantastic and I kept playing all day. Things have changed a lot since 2011 when I started playing para badminton,” says Sarkar, a winner of the Arjuna Prize.


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