Suhas L Yathiraj loses to world champion Mazur to win silver

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India’s Suhas Lalinakere Yathriraj won silver in the men’s singles SL4 category at the Paralympics after losing to top seed Lucas Mazur 21-15, 17-21, 15-21 in the final in Tokyo on Sunday. France’s Mazur is the reigning world champion and has won gold in this category at the last two World Championships. Suhas had earlier lost 15-21, 17-21 to Mazur in the group stage as well in Tokyo.

Earlier, Tarun Dhillon lost 17-21, 11-21 to Indonesia’s Fredy Setiawan in the bronze medal match in the same category.

This is the first time that badminton is being played at the Paralympics. Suhas won three of his five matches this week, with his only losses coming against Mazur. All his three wins came without dropping a game.

This is India’s third medal in badminton in Tokyo. Manoj Sarkar also won bronze in the men’s singles SL3 category on Saturday.

Suhas had earlier outwitted Setiawan 21-9, 21-15 in 31 minutes in the first semifinal in the category on Saturday.

Officially, India’s medals tally at the Tokyo Paralympics now stands at 18 medals, including four golds, eight silvers and six bronzes. Their previous best was four medals at the Stoke Mandeville and New York Paralympics in 1984 and Rio Paralympics in 2016.

Suhas is an IAS officer of 2007 UP cadre and is currently the district magistrate (DM) of Gautam Budhh Nagar, UP. His gold in the Asia Championships 2016 came when he was serving as the DM of Azamgarh – he was the first-ever serving Indian bureaucrat to represent and win a medal for India at a global level. He played badminton at school level and at the civil services academy before taking it up on a more serious note due to the encouragement of peers and family. He is a self-taught, self-coached player. He has an impairment on one of his ankles.

Dhillon grew up with dreams of becoming a cricketer but a poorly-treated accident to his right leg resulted in an eventual deformity that ended those dreams. He discovered badminton just a year later and went on to excel in it. Dhillon won gold at the 2013 World Championships in Germany at the age of 19. He also won gold in the SL4 men’s singles and a bronze in doubles (SL3-SUS) at the 2018 Asian Para Games and a silver in the SL4 men’s singles at the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea. Dhillon is also a two-time world champion in the sport, winning the men’s singles title 2015 as well.

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