Tokyo: Paddler Bhavina Patel enters the final match of the women’s singles class 4 at the Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games in Tokyo on Saturday, August 28, 2021 (Photo PTI)
New Delhi, August 28 (PTI): Bhavinaben Patel made history on Saturday, becoming the first Indian to make the final of a table tennis event at the Paralympic Games, with a relentless victory over China’s Miao Zhang in the Class 4 semi-final in Tokyo.
The 34-year-old Indian, who surprised even the Indian camp at the current Paralympic Games with her sensational show, stunned China’s world No.3 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11- 8, winning in 34 minutes.
She will face world number 1 Chinese paddler Ying Zhou in the summit clash on Sunday.
Daughter of Hasmukhbhai Patel, a small trader from Sundhiya village in Mehsana district of Gujarat, she was not considered a medal prospect as the Games approached, but she made her first Paralympic Games a moment to remember .
“When I got here I just thought I would give my 100 percent without thinking about anything. If you give 100 percent the coin will come, that’s what I thought,” said Patel, who was diagnosed. with polio when she was 12.
“If I continue with this confidence with the blessing of the people of my country, I think I will win gold tomorrow. I am ready for the final and I have to give myself 100% in the final as well.”
Patel, who plays in a wheelchair, lost the opener after a close game. But she made a solid rebound, claiming the next two to take a 2-1 lead.
Patel was in great contact as she only needed four minutes to wrap up the third.
In Game 4, Zhang showed off his class, yet to give Patel bragging rights as the game moved towards the decider.
In the decisive fifth game, Patel quickly took a 5-0 lead. But the Chinese have made a comeback. Trailing 5-9, Zhang won three successive points to bring the score to 8-9.
In an attempt to pull himself together, Patel took a time out after which there was no way to stop him. Armed with two match points, she sealed the problem to extend her purple patch.
It was Patel’s first victory over former world No.1 Zhang. The two players had already met 11 times.
Patel will face a tough challenge from Zhou in the gold medal game. She had bowed obediently (3-11, 9-11, 2-11) against the Chinese in her first group match on Wednesday.
On Friday, in the quarter-finals, Patel beat the Serbian winner of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and world number 2 Borislava Peric Rankovic to clinch a medal and storyline history.
Class 4 athletes have proper seated balance and fully functional arms and hands. Their involvement may be due to an injury to the lower spinal cord or to cerebral palsy.
Patel started practicing the sport 13 years ago at the Association of Blind People of the Vastrapur Region in Ahmedabad, where she was a student at the ITI for People with Disabilities.
There she saw visually impaired children playing table tennis and decided to take up the sport. She won her first medal in a competition while representing the Rotary Club in Ahmedabad where she is now based after her marriage to Nikunj Patel, who played junior cricket for Gujarat.
She reached number two in the world in 2011 after winning a silver medal for India at the Thailand PTT Table Tennis Championship. In October 2013, Patel won another silver medal in women’s singles class 4 at the Asian Para Table Tennis Championships in Beijing.