Tokyo, Aug 24 (IANS) India will open its campaign at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games with para table tennis players Sonal Patel and Bhavina Patel getting into action in the preliminary rounds of their respective categories. Both of them will start against strong Chinese opponents in their first matches in group-stage play.
Playing in the women’s singles Class 3 – Group D, Sonal Patel will take on China’s Li Qian. Sonal is ranked 19th and making her Paralympics debut while Qian is ranked 5th and will be playing in her fourth Paralympic Games. She has won four gold medals and one silver in her three previous Paralympic Games.
South Korea’s Lee Mi Gyu is the other player in Group D. Group winner will progress to the next stage.
Bhavina Patel will get into action in the women’s singles Class 4 Group A against another Chinese Zhou Ying, the world No. 2 in this class, in the opener. Great Britain’s Megan Shackleton is the third player in Group A.
Bhavina is ranked eighth in the world and would be hoping to beat the British player to keep alive her hopes of making it to the next round as 15 players have been divided into five groups of three each.
This is also Bhavina’s first Paralympic Games.
While Bhavina is ranked 8th in the world in her category, Sonal is ranked 19th. Both have been recipients of the Sardar Patel Award and the Eklavya Award and have been medallist at the Asian Games.
Bhavina won bronze medal in International Table Tennis Federation Asian Para Table Tennis Championship that was organised from August 23 to 31, 2017 in Beijing, China. She reached world No. 2 rank by winning a silver medal in the individual category at the PTT Thailand Table Tennis Championship in 2011.
Both Bhavina and Sonal have been training under coach Lalan Doshi at the Blind People’s Association in Ahmedabad.