On Saturday, August 28, 34-year-old Bhavina Hasmukh Patel from Mehsana, Gujarat turned tables at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Paralympics for her country as she played a tight semi-final match against China's Zhang Miao to enter the Table Tennis final game.
The paddler has been coached by Lalan Doshi will meet China's Ying Zhou in Sunday's final game. She had earlier defeated the reigning Paralympics Champion Borislava Peric of Serbia with a score of 3-0 in the quarterfinals.
This is Bhavina's maiden Paralympics entry as she couldn't participate in the 2016 Rio Paralympics despite being selected due to 'federation issues'.
According to The Bridge, Bhavina trained using a second-hand table tennis robot since 2018. Even during the lockdown, she practised for almost eight hours up to the big game. "This is an effort of over 13 years. She has trained for eight hours every day," The Bridge quoted her coach Lalan Doshi after she entered the semi-final.
Speaking to the media after her semi-final victory, she said, "Today, I've proved nothing is impossible. I urge all Indians to give their blessings to me for final match tomorrow, so I'll be able to perform better."
"It is because of their support that I could reach this stage today. Thank you, everyone.... I have never considered myself disabled. Today I have proved that nothing is impossible," she said.
Bhavina, a government employee working for ESIC in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, became the first Indian table tennis player to reach the final at the Paralympic Games. "If I maintain the same standard of play, I can win the gold medal," she said, adding that she did not expect to reach this stage when she started her journey in her first Paralympics, reports IANS.
"When I started, I never thought I would reach this stage. I came here with the aim of giving my hundred per cent in every game. And that is what I have done so far. If you give your 100 per cent to something, then medals will come," Bhavina said in a video posted by the Paralympic Committee of India on Twitter.
Mentally ready for final
Asked about the final, Bhavina said she was mentally ready for the encounter with Zhou Ying of China, to whom she had lost in her opening match in Tokyo. "I am ready mentally for that match. I will give my 100 per cent in that match too," said
Reacting to her success at the Tokyo 2020 Games, Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur tweeted, "Go Bhavina ! Great game, now for the finale!" Olympic Wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya praised her for defeating the world no. 3 TT champion.