TOKYO — Pioneering Indian Para Table Tennis star Bhavinaben Patel is disappointed at not giving everything in the women’s singles gold medal match against world number one.

Patel finished second after China’s Zhou Ying beat her 3-0 in the gold medal match for women’s singles Wheelchair Class 4 in the ongoing Tokyo Paralympics on Aug. 29.

With the silver, Patel has become the first table tennis player ever to win a medal at the Paralympics for India and the second female athlete after Paralympic Committee of India chief Deepa Malik to achieve this feat. Malik had won silver at Rio 2016 in women’s shot put.

“I am very happy on one side, and on one side, I was very nervous, so that’s why I wasn’t able to give my hundred percent in the match,” said Patel.

“I am not satisfied and (also) a little bit disappointed. But I will fulfill all the shortcomings in the next tournament.”

World number one Ying overwhelmed the 34-year-old Indian in straight sets (11-7, 11-5, 11-6) in just 19 minutes.

“I am able to control my mind very well; It is not a big thing for me,” Patel said. “But this was my first experience. The Chinese player played very well. She had a very fast moment and have a huge experience, so that’s why I was nervous.

“I tried to give my hundred percent, but I was not able to give, and that’s why I am disappointed. If I gave more effort, definitely I would have done it [win gold].”

Incidentally, Patel also lost to Zhou in her first group stage match on Aug. 25 as the Chinese remained her Achilles heel at the Games. She defeated world rankings nine, eight, two, and three in the lead-up to the final.

“I was confident that I would win a medal against her and will definitely win gold, but I felt a little bit of pressure as I wasn’t able to control my thoughts,” Patel said. “The way I wanted to play was not exactly implemented by me.”

“I tried to give her [Zhou] side balls, but she was able to hit it. So I thought I shouldn’t give her those negative points and decided not to continue with that.”

She said she was delighted to be part of India’s history in Para Table Tennis in the Tokyo Paralympics. She thanked her coach for unrelenting support and training.

“I also want to dedicate my medal to the supporters, India, PCI (Paralympic Committee of India), SAI (Sports Authority of India), TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme), and the Blind People Association,” Patel said.

“Without their support, I am nothing.”

World number one Ying has now become one of the most celebrated para-paddlers in China. The 32-year-old is now a six-time Paralympic gold medalist.

She won two medals in each single and team event during the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games before Tokyo 2020. Although she missed out on the podium in singles at the 2016 Rio games, she managed to get to glory in the team event.

Ying is also a six-time World Championship medalist. Her achievements include one silver and five gold medals. She is one of the best paddlers in Asia, having won 14 Asian Championship medals and five Asian Games gold medals.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani



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