21 August 2019
New Delhi: His hard work over the years has finally paid off as he was nominated for the prestigious Arjuna Award, something he had waited for, for years. However, the dedicated shuttler has no time to celebrate as he is spearheading India's challenge at the BWF Para Badminton World Championships in Basel, Switzerland.
The championships started with the round-robin matches on Tuesday.
"It's a mixed feeling. I am very excited and happy. For every Indian sportsperson, it's a dream to win the National Award. But now that I am playing at the World Championships, I want to keep my focus and play well. The party can wait," Bhagat was quoted as saying by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).
"But the Arjuna Award has come at the right time, giving a big boost to the preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
The 31-year-old shuttler tops in world ranking with 4950 points. He will be the eighth Arjuna awardee from Odisha. Son of late Kailash Bhagat and Kusum Devi of Atabira in Baragarh district, Pramod was fascinated towards badminton since childhood.
"Also I feel recognition is important to inspire the youngsters. The award will motivate young para badminton players to pursue the sport. My main target for now is to gain the qualification points and maintain the lead," the Asian Para Games 2018 gold medallist added.
Bhagat will become the fourth Para Badminton player to get an Arjuna award after former world champions Parul Parmer, Raj Kumar and Manoj Sarkar who received the honour in the past years. He will receive the award alongwith 18 others who include para athlete Sundar Singh Gurjar and cricketer Ravindra Jadeja.
Bhagat already has eight gold medals (five singles and three doubles) this year itself from six tournaments - World Games 2019, Turkey 2019, Dubai 2019, Uganda 2019, Canada 2019 and Ireland 2019.
National coach Gaurav Khanna, who has played one of the most important roles in Bhagat's upward surge, praised his ward as one of the most dedicated in the camp.
"I am very happy for Pramod. His outside personality seems like a funny casual person but from inside, he is very sensitive, caring and emotional. And that reflects in his game. He is the most popular guy among all my trainees at my centre and no less than a hero. He is one of the dedicated players in the camp and his never giving up attitude stands out. This award is a big boost for Para Badminton fraternity," Khanna said.