Bhavinaben Patel entered the final of the women's singles class 4 table tennis event at the Tokyo Paralympics, defeating world No. 3 Miao Zhang of China on Saturday. She will compete for the gold against China’s Ying Zhou on Sunday.
This was Patel's first victory against the former World No. 1. The two players had met 11 times previously.
Also Read | Tokyo Paralympics: Powerlifter Sakina Khatun Finishes 5th
Bhavinaben began the semifinal with a stutter, losing the first game 7-11. However, she came back strongly to win the next two games 11-7, 11-4. Zhang won the fourth game 11-9 to force a decider in the tight encounter.
The Indian paddler stepped up the tempo in the fifth set. She won six consecutive points before losing three on the trot. However, the points cushion was good enough for Bhavinaben to seal it 11-8 and the date with the World No. 1.
Bhavinaben entered the semifinals with a stunning straight-game win over World No. 2 and defending champion Borislava Peric Rankovic of Serbia.
The 34-year-old, who was diagnosed with polio when she was 12, beat her Serbian opponent 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 in the quarterfinal that lasted just 18 minutes.
‘I Don’t Consider Myself Disabled’
Assured of at least a silver medal Bhavinaben said she doesn't consider herself as disabled and that her performance proves "nothing is impossible".
"...I don't consider myself as disabled, I am always confident I can do anything and today I also proved that we are not behind and para table tennis is as ahead as other sports," said Bhavinaben.
Click | For More Coverage of the Tokyo Paralympics and Olympics From Newsclick Sports
"I fought against China and it is always said that it is difficult to win against China. Today I proved that nothing is impossible, you can do everything..."
Bhavinaben said focusing on the mental aspect of the game helped her during the match.
"My schedule used to start at 4am and I used to focus more on my mind, through meditation and yoga I learnt to keep myself calm. During matches, sometimes we make mistakes in a hurry and we lose points but I could control my thoughts today," she said.
"I want to thank the coaches, who taught me tricks and technique because of them I have been able to reach here," she added.
(With additions from PTI)
Read more sports stories from Newsclick