India’s Tokyo Paralympics gold winner Pramod Bhagat was on Thursday named among six shuttlers for the Male Para Badminton Player of the Year by the sport’s world body but none of his compatriots featured in the able-bodied awards’ categories.
Reigning world champion Bhagat, who had won a historic gold medal in the men’s singles SL3 class in the Tokyo Olympics in September, was also named along with Manoj Sarkar for the newly introduced Para Badminton Pair of the Year, with five other nominees.
Sarkar had bagged a bronze in the men’s singles SL3 class in the Tokyo Olympics. The 33-year-old Bhagat, who had contracted polio when he was four years old, picked up the sport after watching his neighbours play. Initially, he competed against able-bodied players before getting into competitive para badminton in 2006.
Bhagat is also current world number one and Asian champion in SL3. In SL3 classification, athletes with lower limb impairment compete.
There was no Indian in the list of nominees in the able-bodied categories.
Danish players Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen, China’s Wnag Yi Lyu and Japan’s Yuta Watanabe were nominated for the (able-bodied) Male Player of the Year. Axelsen was the gold medallist at the Tokyo Olympics.
China’s Tokyo Games gold winner in women’s singles, Chen Yu Fei, Spain’s Carolina Marin, Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying and Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi were the nominees for Female Player of the Year.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the eligibility period was extended to cover the 2020 and 2021 seasons (November 1, 2019 to October 31, 2021). The winners will be announced during the Bali Leg of the HSBC BWF World Tour in Indonesia in November-December.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) said two new award categories were introduced — Pair of the Year and Para Badminton Pair of the Year.
“The BWF Awards Commission also wished to make special mention of the extraordinary journey of Guatemalaâs Kevin Cordon across four Olympic Games and his stunning performances at Tokyo 2020 which took him to the semifinals,” the BWF said.