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Para badminton stars eye Paralympic berth with good show in World Championships
2/7/2024 9:49:43 PM
MUMBAI, Feb 7: Indian para badminton players Manasi Joshi, Mandeep Kaur and Palak Kohli have set sights on excelling in the World Championships to be held in Pattaya from February 20-25, as success there would propel them into the Paralympics later this year.
India won a total of 21 medals in badminton from a historic grand total of 111 at the Para Asian Games in Hangzhou last year, with Manasi and Mandeep clinching a bronze each in singles.
There was further success in store for both the shuttlers in the women's doubles SL3-SU5 event, with Manasi bagging a silver medal with Thulasimathi Murugesan and Mandeep winning a bronze with Manisha Ramdass.
"We all are going to be playing in the World Championships for which we are travelling on February 17. This is the final; this is the end of the Paralympics qualification year," Manasi told PTI in an exclusive chat on a sidelines of an event organised by their sponsors Welspun, who focus on promoting female athletes.
"The qualification process ends on March 31, from that day our rankings and the race to Paris will be frozen and that is why this World Championship tournament is important for all of us," she added.
Manasi said a "high concentration" of competitions would only push the para athletes to give their best on the court.
"India won 111 medals at the Para Asian Games, I am very proud to have contributed two in it. From October (2023) to March, we have had one of the highest concentration of tournaments for us where there was Asian Games, World Championships and then the Paralympics this year in August.
"We don't know what happens in the next 2-3 months but for me it is one of the biggest competitions. I am very hopeful and happy that I am able to understand myself better and put in a very different kind of effort," she added.
Mandeep said getting two months of training time before the tournament in Pattaya would help the shuttlers.
"Every player has Olympics as their target but before that I have the World Championships," she said.
"We did not get much time (to train) before the Para Asian Games, the tournaments are happening back to back. But we have got about two months to train for the World Championships and we are working hard and hope to give our 100 per cent," Mandeep said.
The 21-year-old Palak, who has recovered from being diagnosed with having bone tumour, says she is more confident of the challenges ahead.
"My main target this year is Paris; I am not looking at anything lesser than a podium at Paris," she said.
"Last year has been (about) a comeback for me. In 2022, I did not know what will happen in my life ahead. I was struggling in that phase of my life and I did not know whether I would be there tomorrow or not." "But days go by and you become stronger. The strength and courage you get after facing... after overcoming those hurdles, you have more power for the coming challenges in life," she added.
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