TOKYO — Suhas L. Yathiraj, the para-badminton player and the district magistrate of northern India’s Gautam Buddha Nagar, bagged the silver medal in the recently concluded Tokyo Paralympics on Sept. 5.
He settled for a silver after going down fighting in the final of the men’s singles SL4 event against France’s Lucas Mazur.
Lucas won by 15-21, 21-17, 21-15 in 1 hour and 2 minutes in the Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo.
“A brilliant display of grit, passion & determination in one of the most thrilling finals. We salute your dedication to the service of the nation and sports!!”
The unseeded Indian started the match swiftly and ran off with a lead of 11-8 at the mid-game interval against the Frenchman. Yathiraj continued with his superior tactics and agility as he took the first game quickly by 21-15 in 20 minutes. He clearly looked like a man on a mission as he matched the top seed and even bettered him in the opening game.
But Mazur was not ready to get bogged down, and he clawed his way back in the second set. But a series of errors by him saw the Indian lead again by 11-8 at the one-minute break. But Mazur showed his experience when it mattered most and regained momentum to put a scintillating display and leveled the game at 15-15. The champion player then went one step ahead and won 9 of the last 11 points to close out the second game by 21-17 in 22 minutes and push the match to the decider.
As expected, the third set had the cagiest of starts, with both players not giving each other any room to take the early advantage. Serves kept rotating on almost every point, but Yathiraj again led by the narrowest of margin 11-10 at the interval.
But the top-seed once again halted Yathiraj’s charge as he grabbed the 19-15 lead by playing some fabulous cross-court and net shots. The Frenchman, who was trailing for most of the match, soon had the 5 gold medal points in hand, and he made sure not to let those slip. He won the third set by 21-15 in 21 minutes as Suhas had to be satisfied with the silver.
“Wow! This is amazing. DM of Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida),” said Virender Sehwag, former Indian cricketer, in a tweet.
(With inputs from ANI)
Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra
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