Dubai Para Badminton International 2021: Bhagat, Oktila clinch 2 gold each; India tops medal standings

Dubai Para Badminton International 2021: Bhagat, Oktila clinch 2 gold each; India tops medal standings

6 April 2021

Asian shuttlers’ dominance was on display as the curtains fell on the 3rd Sheikh Hamdan bin Al Maktoum Dubai Para Badminton International 2021.

Reigning world champion Pramod Bhagat clinched two gold medals to help Team India finish on top of the medal standings with four gold medals.

Meanwhile, France’s world no. 1 Lucas Mazur’s superb performance to take triple gold in standing lower men’s singles SL4, men’s doubles SU5 and mixed doubles SL4-SU5 events was the highlight of the Championship.

Overall, India finished with 20 medals (4 gold, 6 silver and 10 bronze medals), ahead of France who finished with 8 medals (4 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze) and Malaysia with 7 medals (3 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze).

Indonesia also returned home with 6 medals (2 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze). 

This was the first BWF competition after more than a year because of the COVID-19 Pandemic; the last international event was played in Peru, in February 2020.

As many as 127 players from 29 countries including hosts United Arab Emirates took part in the championships, with the highlight being participation from Asian teams -- Kuwait, Maldives and Nepal for the first time.

Besides, this year the Championship, known as Fazza- Dubai Para Badminton International in the past years, has been renamed to pay tribute to His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry, who passed away recently.

Bhagat takes two gold

Bhagat started India’s proceeding on the day taking the gold against compatriot Nitesh Kumar winning it 21-17, 21-18 after fighting it out for 39 minutes.

“It was a good tournament overall and I am very happy to start the year on such a strong note and hope I can end it with a gold at Tokyo 2020. It feels great to get the rhythm back. Everyone had come here after a lot of hard work in the lockdown and this shows in their performance,” said Bhagat, who later combined with Manoj Sarkar to defeat yet again compatriots Nitesh and Sukant Kadam 21-18, 21-16 in men’s doubles SL3-SL4 final.

He also had a bronze in mixed doubles SL3-SU5 along with promising Palak Kohli.

Mazur’s golden treble

On the final day, Mazur opened his golden run in style, partnering with Faustine Noel in the mixed doubles standing category (SL3-SU5) as the pair came back from a game down to beat top Indonesian pair Hary Susanto and Leani Ratri Oktila 12-21, 21-19, 21-19 in almost an hour match.

The Frenchman then claimed his men's singles standing lower SL4 title rather easy against India's Sukant Kadam 21-15, 21-6. He completed the treble with yet another close match against Indonesia’s Suryo Nugroho and Fredy Setiawan that went into three sets 21-19, 13-21, 21-19 in men’s doubles SU5.

“I am happy to put in my game plan and tactics here in the Championships. I have fond memories of this Dubai event as I always had won titles here. I am happy that all the hard work during the lockdown paid off here,” said Mazur who is already eyeing a gold medal in Tokyo 2020.

Double delight for Oktila

Meanwhile, Indonesian top player Oktila left the Shabab Al Ahli Club with two gold medals in women’s singles SL4 and women’s doubles SL3-SL4.

“I wanted to go back home with three gold medals, but managed only two. I will work on my mental aspect and fighting spirit to achieve my target of three gold in Tokyo 2020,” said Oktila, who alongwith partner Khalimatus Sadiyah overcame France’s Lenaig Morin and Faustine Noel 21-15, 21-16 in women’s doubles. The Indonesian had topped the group stage to take the womne’s SL4 title.

Heartbreaking loss

However, her compatriot and world no. 1 Dheva Anrimusthi had a heartbreaking loss in the men's singles Standing Upper (SU5) finals, as Malaysian World Championships bronze medallist Cheah Liek Hou pulled off the thriller coming back from a game down to win 14-21, 22-20, 21-18.

Cheah later said he was lucky to save four match points and force a decider from 16-20 down to winning it 22-20.

Among other highlights, Ukraine's Oksana Kozyna came out with a brilliant performance to shock reigning world champion Manasi Joshi in straight games 21-10, 21-17 in women’s singles SL3 final.

Malaysia ruled wheelchair events

In wheelchair events, Malaysia claimed the men’s singles WH1 and WH2 events with Muhammed Ikhwan Ramli and Noor Azwan Noorlan taking the top honours.

France’s David Toupe who settled for the silver in men’s singles WH1 23-21, 13-21 against Ramli, paired up with Thomas Jakobs to pull off a thrilling men’s doubles WH1-WH2 match 21-19, 23-21 against India’s Prem Kumar Ale and Abu Hubaida.

Before the silver, India’s Ale had already claimed the mixed doubles WH1 - WH2 title alongwith Russian Tatiana Gureeva against Swiss pair Luca Olgiati and Karin Suter-Erath 11-21, 18-21. “This title was a big boost to my confidence. I am motivated to work harder now,” Ale added.

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