Updated: Nov 21, 2023 22:40 IST
New Delhi [India], November 21 (ANI): Indian para-badminton player and Para Asian Games medalist Sukant Kadam expressed happiness over his performance at the recently concluded Asiad meet in Hangzhou and lauded his men’s doubles partner Pramod Bhagat.
He said it feels good that many athletes are coming from smaller villages and getting medals.
In the Asian Games held in Hangzhou from September 23 to October 8, India finished with 107 medals, including 28 gold, 38 silver and 41 bronze medals, crossing the 100-medal mark for the first time ever. Just a few days later, the Indian para-athlete contingent also made history by hitting a century of medals, finishing with 111 medals that included 29 gold, 31 silver and 51 bronze medals.
Sukant shined in the Para Asian Games, securing a bronze medal in men’s singles competition and a bronze in men’s doubles with Pramod.
“It feels proud to win medals in big tournaments. Last time, I had won one bronze and this time I got two. So the improvement is definitely there. I expected more from myself, but still, let us see next time,” Sukant told ANI.
“I think I did not fall short. That day I was not the best. My opponent was better than me. I learnt a lot. Everyone prepared well for the Para Asian Games. I need to prepare a little more perhaps,” he said.
On his partner Pramod, Sukant said that the veteran para-badminton player is a legend.
“Pramod is a legend. It is an honour that I am his partner. His experience is really helpful and it matters during big matches and events. We both know how to play badminton well, but he has that experience and courage to play and win. He is very kind and understanding. We have played well together, achieved the number one ranking and Asian Games medal. Having such an experienced partner helps you on the court and off the court,” said Sukant.
He said it is really great how athletes coming from smaller villages are getting medals and consequently, recognition from the government.
He expressed optimism that India’s medal tally will rise in future.
“As an athlete, it feels great to have a record-breaking medal’s tally in Asian Games and Para Asian Games. There is a lot of awareness about sports coming in India. It feels good that many athletes are coming from smaller villages and getting medals and consequently honours from the government. The Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) scheme by the central government helps athletes and provides them with adequate support. That is why the medal tally has increased this time. It will only go up with time. It will go up to more than 150 in future,” he said.
“It is a collective support of government, athletes and fans that how sports is being promoted, how athletes are getting medals. It is motivating other athletes to do well too. We are on a good track and India will be a sports hub of the future,” he added.
Sukant talked about his efforts to improve his game.
“My experience has been nice. Earlier, not many people took an interest in para-sports, our medal tally and game. But now, we get equal support from the government without any discrimination. When I was starting out, I did not have much support from the government and the academy. But when I progressed and became a medal probable, I was included in the TOPS scheme. I was then able to play more tournaments. I got better training, equipment, expert advice to help with my game. We are receiving a lot of support right now, the competition is rising. The results will definitely come and will get better,” said Sukant.
On his future plans, Sukant said that qualifying for Paralympics is definitely on his mind.
“Definitely Paralympics. We have played a lot of tournaments this year that helped get points for qualification to the Paralympics. We have performed really well. World Championships are going to take place in February, which is a very important tournament from a qualification perspective. We want to perform well there, qualify for the Paris Paralympics and play well there,” he concluded. (ANI)