Suhas Yathiraj puts onus on state associations to help para sports grow

"The state-level associations need to be run professionally. They need to tie up for funding with different things like CSR and identify talent at state and district levels and then give opportunities," he said.

Paralympics silver medallist Suhas Yathiraj is excited to see increased participation in national championships after India's splendid show in Tokyo.

Paralympic medallists feel the Tokyo Games was a watershed moment for para sports in the country since rich medal haul has encouraged people to make a career in sports, which is evident from the increased participation in national tournaments.

The Indian contingent scripted history at the Tokyo Paralympics by winning 19 medals.

"There was an increase in participation in the national championships that were held in Odisha. It was very high. The interest in badminton is extremely high because it is a very easy sport for beginners. So para badminton is reaching new heights in India and around the world," Tokyo Paralympics silver medallist Suhas Yathiraj, who is Gautam Buddh Nagar's (Noida) District Magistrate, said during a virtual media interaction on Tuesday.

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Badminton player Pramod Bhagat, who won a gold medal in the men's singles SL3 event at the Paralympics, said he was amazed to see the increased participation in the nationals held in Odisha.

"This time more than 500 athletes had come for the nationals, we were completely surprised by the number.

Harvinder Singh, who became the first Indian to win a Paralympics medal in archery, feels the people will now take up different para sports.

"There are still a lot of events in which India has not participated in. The recognition we get after the medal will also help (in people taking up other para sports).

"I feel in the coming time, people will get inspired (to take up more para sports) The Tokyo bronze medallist added that even the para-archery nationals, which was postponed due to COVID-19, had seen increased player registration.

"Our nationals were postponed but the number of entries was huge thanks to the recognition of the Paralympics."

However, Suhas believes a lot can still be done in para badminton as well as other sports.

"Pariticipation of India in the wheelchair category (in badminton) was zero. So we need to ensure that our wheelchair players are given more opportunities.

"The state-level associations need to be run professionally. They need to tie up for funding with different things like CSR and identify talent at state and district levels and then give opportunities," he added India can finish in the Top 3 in athletics in the Paris Paralympics

The athletes are part of International Institute of Sports Management's initiative in which 18 of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics medallist have come together to recite the national anthem in a video, which was released on Monday.