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Tokyo Paralympics: Bhavinaben becomes first Indian to reach table tennis final

Bhavinaben Patel

Bhavinaben Patel scripted history on Saturday as she beat China’s Miao Zhang to become the first Indian to enter the final of the women’s table tennis finals at the Tokyo Paralympics. The victory assures her of at least a silver medal.

Bhavinaben in a tough match trounced the world No 3 Chinese player 3-2 with a five-game score line of 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11-8.

She will take on world number one Chinese player Ying Zhou in the contest for the gold medal in the Class 4 segment on Sunday.

Hailing from Mehsana in Gujarat, Bhavina Patel was diagnosed with polio as an infant. Now 34, she plays table tennis on a wheelchair and has won a number of gold and silver medals in national as well as international competitions.

She is ranked world number 2 with a silver medal win for the country iat the PTT Table Tennis Championship held in Thailand in 2011.

The gritty Bhavina has also had to battle tough financial problems to realise her dream as a sportsperson. The Ahmedabad-based Blind People’s Association (BPA) rose to the occasion to extended support to the para-athlete recently.

The Target Olympic Podium Scheme also included Patel in their scheme of providing financial support to youth athletes in 2020. A proposal of more than Rs 7,00,000 was sanctioned by the committee.

In October 2013, Patel won another silver medal in the women’s singles Class 4 at the Asian Para table tennis championships held in Beijing in 2013 and a bronze at the Para Table Tennis Championship in 2017 which was also held in Beijing.