He has been a busy bureaucrat fighting the COVID-19 menace in the National Capital Region being Noida’s District Magistrate but Suhas L Yathiraj has not let his demanding job affect his preparations for the Para-Badminton event at the Tokyo Paralympics, starting August 24. A look at Yathiraj’s official twitter handle — @dmgbnagar — shows that for the last 16 months it has been dedicated to dissemination of COVID-19-relayed information. The young DM, who is an Asian Para-Badminton gold and bronze medallist, will now be practising extra hours to bring glory to the country.
“Being the DM of Noida, it was a very challenging time during the pandemic. But I never gave up on my training and devoted all my focus and time into it,” said Yathiraj, an IAS officer of UP cadre and former DM of Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad).
“I am very much confident to clinch a medal at Tokyo 2020.”
The bureaucrat along with Manoj Sarkar on Friday qualified after the game’s governing body BWF granted two bipartite quotas to India, making it a seven-member contingent at the Tokyo Games. Yathiraj has been granted the quota in men’s singles SL4, while Sarkar has made the cut in men’s singles SL3, and will be joining the team led by world number one Pramod Bhagat.
The addition of the two para shuttlers also boosted India’s medal prospects in the two men’s singles categories. India already has Bhagat in men’s singles SL3 and Tarun Dhillon in men’s singles SL4 events.
“It’s wonderful to have strong presence at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Indian para shuttlers are doing very well in international events including Asian Para Games and World Championships, and now this is the time to lead the show in the Paralympics,” chief national coach Gaurav Khanna said in a media release.
“A little bit disappointing though as I was expecting more shuttlers to qualify since they did well in the recent BWF events.”
Sarkar described it as a “dream” come true moment to qualify for the Paralympics especially when the sport was making its debut. “There are a lot of expectations and I hope to live up to it in Tokyo.
My target will be a podium finish at the Games and I will be out to win the gold,” said the former world number one. Delighted at the two bipartite slots, Paralympic Committee of India President Deepa Malik said: “We are very happy with the latest development. Our para shuttlers have been doing really well in the international events in the past few years.”
“And inclusion of Suhas L. Yathiraj and Manoj Sarkar have increased our medal chances. I wish them the entire team good luck.”
The Team: Men’s singles: Pramod Bhagat (SL3), Manoj Sarkar (SL3), Tarun Dhillon (SL4), Suhas L. Yathiraj (SL4), Krishna Nagar (SH6) Women’s doubles: Parul Parmar and Palak Kohli (SL3-SU5).
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