Pramod Bhagat wins golds in singles and doubles at Dubai para badminton international

Pramod Bhagat is a four-time world champion. Luis Veniegra/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

World no. 1 Pramod Bhagat has won gold at the Dubai Para Badminton international in SL4 category defeating compatriot Nitesh Kumar.

Bhagat beat Kumar 21-17, 21-18 in a final that was sprinkled with long rallies and tight points.

SL4 players are those athletes who could have an impairment in one or both legs and a minimal impairment in walking/running balance. They must play standing.

Bhagat teamed up with Manoj Sarkar to win gold in their doubles match (SL4 - SL3) against compatriots Sukant Kadam and Nitesh Kumar. They won 21-18, 21-16 in another close match that lasted 29 minutes.

Bhagat won a third medal for the tournament when he teamed up with Pala Kohli to win bronze in mixed doubles.

Meanwhile, Sukant Kudam (world no. 5) won silver in the SL 3 individual final to add to his doubles silver. SL 3 is for athletes who have a more severe impairment than the SL 4 category. It's also a standing event.

The Indians, for whom this was a first international competition after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of events for more than a year, won 21 medals -- 5 gold, 6 silver, 10 bronze -- in the tournament.

"After such a long gap, this is a very good return, winning two gold medals which will help me a lot in the build up to the Paralympics. I hope to continue this kind of performance in the Paralympics," Bhagat said.

"During COVID time, SAI and TOPS helped me a lot, they provided me a mini-gym which helped me maintain my fitness, the result of which was visible today. I was fit that's why I was able to perform well.

"SAI also organised a very good camp because of which we were able to return to our levels and make a strong comeback on the international circuit," said Bhagat, who is among seven para-badminton players in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme.

Chief coach Gaurav Khanna said, "Once the lockdown was over, we started training in Lucknow and we were looking for the opportunity to get tournaments where we can assess ourselves and we got the opportunity to come here.

"I am so happy that we are the highest in medals tally among all the countries present here."