Bhavina Patel was the lone Indian paddler to reach the knockout rounds at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games after compatriot Sonal Patel crashed out in the preliminary group stage of table tennis competitions on Thursday.
Bhavina managed to advance to the Round of 16 from Group A in Women’s Table Tennis Class 4. She defeated Megan Shackleton of Great Britain 3-1 (11-7, 9-11, 17-15, 13-11) in 41 minutes in their Group A preliminary round match.
Sonal Patel, the other Indian competitor in table tennis, however, could not clear the group stage after losing to her South Korean opponent in Group D in Women’s Individual Class 3 competitions on Thursday. Sonal lost 1-3 (12-10, 5-11, 3-11, 9-11) in 30 minutes. After making a good start, the 33-year-old from Ahmedabad lost the next two games easily. She did put up a stiff fight in the fourth game but could not take the match to the decider.
Sonal had gone down fighting 2-3 to China’s Li Qian in her opening match in the three-player Group D.
Bhavina, who too had lost her opening match to higher-ranked Chinese Zhou Ying 3-0 on Wednesday, came back strongly to beat Megan. She won the first game easily but had to use all her experience and skills to quell a strong challenge from Megan, who had won the second game and took her Indian rival to extra points in the next two games. She finished second in the three-player group and thus qualified for the next stage.
In the Round of 16, Bhavina will take on Brazil’s Jyoce de Oliveira on Friday.
Bhavina is ranked eighth in the world and defeated the British player to keep alive her hopes of getting into the medal rounds.
Bhavina, who won the bronze medal in International Table Tennis Federation Asian Para Table Tennis Championship that was organised from 23 to 31 August 2017 in Beijing, China. She reached the ranking of world No. 2, by winning a silver medal in the individual category at the PTT Thailand Table Tennis Championship in 2011, is participating in her first Paralympic Games.
She trains with coach Lalan Doshi at the Blind People’s Association in Ahmedabad.