Paralympian Pramod Bhagat, who won a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics, will get a monetary reward of Rs. 6 crores from Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik. In addition, the Odisha government has declared a Group A government job for him.
Bhagat won a gold medal in the SL3 (Standing/lower limb impairment/minor) at the Tokyo Paralympics last week. He defeated Daniel Bethell of Great Britain 21-14, 21-17 in the men’s singles SL3 tournament on September 4.
On Wednesday, the Odisha Sports Department released a statement declaring that the state government is committed to assisting athletes and para-athletes to reach their full potential. According to an earlier statement, the state government would pay Rs 6 crores to those who win gold medals, 4 crores to those who win silver medals, and 2.5 crores to those who win bronze medals. The government has also approved a grant of Rs 15 lakhs to help them prepare for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Earlier, on July 8, 2021, CM Naveen Patnaik had wished the Odisha Olympians and Para-Olympians success as they prepared for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister will greet him with the cheque after Bhagat arrives at Bhubaneswar from Tokyo, stated the sports and youth services department on Wednesday.
At the age of 5, Bhagat, now 32, was diagnosed with polio in his left leg. After dropping out of an ITI training school in Hirakud owing to his family’s financial situation, he worked as a fan technician in the Bargarh district of Odisha. His interest in badminton started after watching a match when he was 13 years old. He played his first badminton event against non-disabled competitors at the district level two years later and went on to win the district-level championship. He then switched to para-badminton.
Badminton was introduced as an official sport for the first time in the Paralympics and was divided into six classes, based on the kind and level of disability. Bhagat was in the SL3 category (Standing/lower limb impairment/minor), which requires a player to play from a standing position. This group of athletes has a problem with one or both lower limbs, as well as poor walking/running balance. They play on a half-width court, with limited court mobility, but employing a wide variety of strokes.
Bhagat, a three-time world champion, excels in both the singles and doubles formats of the sport. He was one of five para-badminton players selected by the Sports Authority of India’s Mission Olympic Cell, which used its Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) program to help athletes prepare for a podium finish at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Bhagat’s father, who had urged him to play badminton, passed away in 2006. He also lost his mother, Kusum Devi, due to Covid-19 last year.
In 2019, he was awarded the Arjuna award for sports excellence, as well as the Odisha government’s Biju Patnaik Sports Award.
A few days ago, the state had handed over cheques of Rs 2.5 crore to Odisha players who competed in the bronze medal-winning Indian Hockey Team. Following their arrival in Bhubaneswar, the Odisha Chief Minister gave the cheques and a DSP level job in the State Police to players Birendra Lakra and Amit Rohidas.