“I just wanted to go out there to do it for myself, and the team,” were the words of Daniel Bethell following his 21-18 21-8 SL3 men’s singles victory over Pramod Bhagat at the first Para badminton tournament of the season.
“I wanted to get off to a good start this year and get a title under my belt. The first game I was solid and executed my plan well. I was keeping my error count as low as possible – that was important.”
The rivalry dates back to 2018 but Bhagat has not defeated Bethell in five matches since winning the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games final against the Englishman. Still, the 11-time winner knew he had to bring his best to the table at Spanish Para Badminton International 2023.
Bethell now heads to the next Paris 2024 qualifying event, the Spanish Para Badminton International Toledo 2023 beginning Wednesday.
“There’s no time to celebrate. We are straight on a bus to Toledo to get ready for the Category 1 event. I want to ensure I’m fit and ready to go again.”
Oktila, Steady as Rock
Leani Ratri Oktila (SL4) was the most successful on the day, emerging with gold in mixed doubles as well as women’s singles and doubles.
“I only had five minutes to research each match in preparation,” laughed Oktila. “It was important to come to this tournament to win as many points as I can for Paris 2024. Every match counts.”
With Hikmat Ramdani, Oktila comfortably defeated Chirag Baretha/Mandeep Kaur Mandeep Kaur 21-11 21-12 in SL3-SU5 mixed doubles to start the day. Her second title came when she faced Fujino Haruka for the singles crown and won 21-11 14-21 21-13 in 37 minutes.
Oktila wrapped up a fruitful day by besting Manasi Girishchandra Joshi/Shanthiya Viswanathan 21-9 21-9 with women’s doubles partner Khalimatus Sadiyah Sukohandoko. All with her young child watching on – the triple Paralympic medallist gave birth to a son seven months ago.
“He’s my world, my priority. When preparing for matches, I make sure he’s happy, he has eaten, or he’s sleeping. Then I can do my warm-up and prep.”
Indonesia continued their success with unseeded Dheva Anrimusthi’s 21-11 17-21 21-17 conquering of SU5 men’s singles top seed Cheah Liek Hou in 67 minutes. It was Malaysian Cheah’s first defeat in four years.
Syakuroh Qonitah Ikhtiar (SL3) also maintained her dominance in her field with a second win (21-9 21-14) this week over world champion Oksana Kozyna while compatriot Rina Marlina (SH6) won two titles in mixed doubles and women’s singles.