Bhubaneswar: Pramod Bhagat, Odisha’s Golden Boy, and reigning world champion para shuttler, has been of the opinion that differently-abled persons are in no way less than abled people. In recent Paralympics held in Tokyo, para-athletes from India proved their mettle once again. While, in Olympic Games 2020, Indian athletes won one gold medal, para-athletes from the country bagged five gold medals, said Bhagat.
Attending a function to mark the 38th anniversary of Sambad, Odisha’s No1 Odia daily, and 12th anniversary of Kanak News, Bhagat said, “Both the Centre and Odisha government have been quite supportive to para-athletes in pursuing their ambition in sports. I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for coining the term ‘Divyang’ for differently-abled persons. Also, I thank Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for his support to para-athletes.”
The Odisha Chief Minister had announced to establish 89 indoor stadiums across the State recently.
Bhagat also urged the State government to ensure access of wheelchair and ramp facilities at all stadiums so that para-athletes could play at these stadiums along with athletes.
He expects more gold medals will be won for India in Olympics and Paralympics.
Speaking about his sports journey, Bhagat said initially his father used to tell him to focus on studies and secure a government job. But the same mindset changed when he played a badminton tournament in Sambalpur while studying in Class IX. He became runners up and won Rs 2,000 cash prize along with a trophy. He presented the prize money and trophy to his father. That moment was a memorable moment for Bhagat and thereafter there was no looking back.
“In 2004, I bagged third place in badminton event in Asian Games. The Centre and State government gave recognition to me since then. Encouraged by the support, I became world champion in 2009,” said Bhagat.
He also spoke about his meeting with his idol cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar and the gift he received from the little master.
Though Bhagat’s parents are from Bihar, he was brought up in Attabira village of Bargarh district of Odisha. He has been encouraged further by the love and affection of his villagers.
When he returned home after wining gold medal in Paralympics-2020, nearly 10,000 people gave him a grand welcome and organised a huge rally on his homecoming.
He also thanked Sambad Group Chairman Soumya Ranjan Patnaik for supporting him during his days of struggle.
“When I was struggling, Soumya Ranjan Sir helped me physically, mentally and financially. They are special who help sportsmen during their struggle days,” expressed Bhagat.
Bhagat was felicitated by Sambad Group Chairman Soumya Ranjan Patnaik in presence of Executive Director Tanaya Patnaik, and other senior executives of the state’s largest media conglomerate.