Bhavinaben Patel on Sunday became only the second Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympics after she signed off with a historic silver following a 0-3 loss to world number one Chinese paddler Ying Zhou in the women’s singles table tennis class 4 final here.
The 34-year-old Patel’s impressive run at the Games ended with a fighting 7-11 5-11 6-11 loss to Zhou, a two-time gold medallist, in the women’s singles summit clash which lasted 19 minutes.
With this medal, Indian team opened its account at the Games.
Patel, a wheelchair player, had also suffered a loss to Zhou, one of the most decorated para-paddlers of China, in her first group stage match earlier in the week.
“I dedicate this medal to those who supported me, PCI, SAI, TOPS, Blind People Association and to all my friends and family,” Patel, who was diagnosed with polio when she was 12 months old, said after winning the medal.
“This medal is also dedicated to my coach, who always supported me and gave hard training for which I could reach this stage. Special thanks to my physio, dietician, sports psychologist. They are who always motivated me.”
Zhou, a six-time World Championship medallist, didn’t allow Patel, currently ranked 12th in her division, to find her angled returns and get into a rally.
Patel, who was diagnosed with polio when she was 12 months old, had defeated world no 3 Miao Zhang of China 7-11 11-7 11-4 9-11 11-8 in the semifinal on Saturday.
Patel started playing the sport 13 years ago at the Blind People’s Association at Vastrapur area of Ahmedabad, where she was a student of 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 Rotary Club in Ahmedabad, where she is settled now after her marriage to Nikunj Patel, who has played junior cricket for Gujarat.