Tokyo: Indian shuttler-cum-bureaucrat Suhas Yathiraj was left with mixed feelings on Sunday after he ended his Paralympic campaign with a silver medal, saying he has never felt so happy and disappointed at the same time in his life.
The 38-year-old Noida District Magistrate produced an entertaining performance before narrowly going down 21-15 17-21 15-21 to two-time world champion Lucas Mazur of France in men’s singles SL4 class summit clash.
“Very emotional (moment). I have never been so happy and so disappointed in my life at the same time. Most happy because of the silver medal but most disappointed because I missed the gold medal by a whisker,” he said after winning the match in a video message posted by the Paralympic Committee of India.
“But destiny gives what I deserve and probably I deserve silver medal so I am happy for that at least.”
Suhas, who has an impairment in one of his ankles, said he hoped for the national anthem to play at the Yoyogi national stadium but it was not to be as the gold medal slipped through his fingers.
“Yes, that is what you pray, that is what you train for, that is what you hope and dream for,” said the world no 3 in SL4 class singles.
“As I said, I have never been so disappointed and most happy in my life, coming so close and yet so far but still winning a Paralympic medal is not a small feat and I am extremely proud for what I have done in last few days.”
A computer engineer, Suhas became an IAS officer in 2007 and was at the forefront of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as Noida’s DM.
On Sunday, Suhas became the first ever IAS officer to win a medal at the Paralympics.
“For every sportsperson, there is no higher achievement then Olympic or Paralympic, so this means the world to me,” he said.
Born in Hassan, Karnataka, Suhas had to travel a lot since his father was a government servant and had postings at difference places.
“I remember my late father because of whom I stand here and got this medal. There are lot of people, I wish, I remember and thank because of whom I am here and I could deliver on a big occasion, extremely happy and proud moment.”
Suhas has won five golds, four silver and seven bronze medals in international competitions in his career so far.
He has won gold medals at 2017 BWF Turkish Para badminton championship in men’s singles and men’s doubles.
He also won gold in 2016 Asia championships, besides a bronze at 2018 Asian Para Games.
At the end of his campaign here, he also received a phone call from prime minister Narendra Modi, who lauded him being a multi-faceted person. He thanked the PM for his encouragement.
Suhas said he had to change his game plan due to the drift in the hall and it resulted in too many unforced errors.
“I had decided that I will not take any pressure and I will enjoy my game today,” Suhas said during a virtual press conference.
“First game was okay but there was drift in the hall and the shuttle was going out, so I was hesitant to lift the shuttle, so I had to change my game plan.
“He is a tall player, so it is difficult if you are not able to lift. So I had to improvise and ended up with unforced errors. In the third game as well, I could have avoided the unforced errors.”
Asked how he managed to prepare for the Paralympics while doing his duty as a DM amid the pandemic, Suhas said: “I have given importance to fitness wherever I was. During COVID I couldn’t practice much but I still maintained fitness.
“When COVID cases reduced and Paralympics inched closer, I trained at Noida with some good sparring partners.
“I always say it is not important how many hours you train in a day… Even if you do it for 3-4 hours, what is important is what you do in those hours,” he said.