Table tennis robot helps Bhavinaben make history and wins Paralympic medal – The New Indian Express
Express news service
The lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic last year could have stopped everything around the world, but not at Patel’s in Ghatlodiya, Ahmedabad (Gujarat). Rather, it gave Bhavinaben Patel the opportunity to train for hours with a used table tennis robot that she bought three years ago for Rs 50,000.
The hard work put in during the lockdown proved to make the difference on Friday as Bhavinaben made history by becoming the first Indian table tennis player to win a Paralympic medal after entering the semi-finals. The 34-year-old Serb surprised world number 5 Borislava Peric Rankovic in the women’s class 4. She won the quarter-final 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 in 18 minutes. She will face China’s Zhang Miao in the semi-final on Saturday and is guaranteed at least one bronze medal.
“We bought her in 2017 and developed a full setup at home to make sure she trains properly. This turned out to be a godsend during lockdown because unlike other athletes, she doesn’t has not stopped training. Instead, she trained between 8 and 12 hours everyday and that gave her an advantage which was on display today (Friday), “said Nikul Patel, Bhavinaben’s husband, to this daily from Tokyo.
The Class 4 paddler received a new robot worth Rs 2.80 lakh earlier this year after being included in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).
Bhavinaben fell while learning to walk at the age of one and was given an injection that weakened her from the waist down, her father Hasmukhbhai Patel informed. He runs a small cutlery shop in Sundhiya, a small village in Vadnagar Tehsil, in the Mahesana district.
“At the age of 12, she decided to join the Association of the Blind in Vastrapur, Ahmedabad, to learn computer skills. There she saw visually impaired children playing table tennis and decided to play the sport. She won a bronze medal in a competition in the first year and that stimulated her, ”explained the father.
Despite pursuing the sport professionally, she did not give up her studies and obtained her degree in Sanskrit. She has over two dozen medals in international events so far.
Like the paddler, her parents also showed immense commitment once she qualified for the Tokyo Paralympic Games. “I closed the store and joined Ahmedabad with my wife to make sure she is training properly for the big event. We want her to stay focused and focus on training,” added the father.
He may have been assured of a medal, but that’s certainly not the end, says Nikul. “Now the goal is to get past the semi-final hurdle and once that is done we will go for gold. She will also compete in doubles and hope to replicate the success there,” Nikul signed.
The paddler also echoed the sentiment. “I was able to win my semi-final match thanks to the support of the Indian people. Please continue to support me so that I can win my semi-final match,” Patel reportedly said after the victory.