A well-oiled powerhouse in badminton, the Asian nation’s athletes with impairments have already hinted they could be equally successful, with strong performances in other tournaments. However, this first-ever foray into the Para-Badminton World Championships will test their mettle against the global stars of para-badminton with 223 players from 37 countries vying for glory from 10-13 September.
China’s medal quest rests with a pair of wheelchair campaigners – female athlete, Wang Ping (below), and her male team-mate, Mai Jianpeng – who will compete in singles in the WH 1 sport class while partnering in Mixed Doubles also. Wang, fresh from a golden treble in the China Para-Badminton International in May, could prove a threat to Switzerland’s Karin Suter-Erath who has excelled in the WH 1 sport class in recent years.
“I am very happy to be at the World Championships this year and I’m excited to start the tournament,” said Wang, also praising the closeness of the Stoke Mandeville Stadium to player accommodations.
This, she added, makes it easy for athletes to go back and forth between the two locations.
Among others expected to be in the spotlight are Korean wonder woman, Lee Sun Ae, the winner of three gold medals at the 2013 edition of the Para-Badminton World Championships in Dortmund, Germany in the WH 2 sport class as well as her compatriot and Mixed Doubles partner, Kim Kyunghoon, who will be looking to improve upon his two golds and one silver from two years ago.
Having won three golds in SS 6 in Dortmund, the hosts will again seek to showcase their superiority in the Short Stature category, with the likes of Rebecca Bedford, Rachel Choong, Krysten Coombs, Isaak Dalglish, Andrew Martin and Jack Shephard listed among England’s 21-member squad.
Meanwhile, Pedro De Vinatea (below) is relishing the chance of playing in his third World Championships and noted the progress his country is making in para-badminton.
“It’s very nice to be here and even better this year as I am not the sole representative like past years and have a team around me this time,” said the Peruvian representative who competes in the SL 3 class.
This is the tenth BWF Para-Badminton World Championships and the sixth occasion on which it will be hosted in Europe with this Major Event previously being held in the Netherlands (1998), Germany (2000), Spain (2001), Wales (2003) and Germany (2013). BWF Vice President – Para-Badminton, Paul Kurzo, anticipates a keen competition which will further enhance para-badminton’s growing reputation as a dynamic and compelling sport featuring talented and fearless athletes.
“We are obviously getting more attention now that para-badminton will be part of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and, as these are the first World Championships since that announcement, I expect our athletes will be especially eager to impress and make a name for themselves,” said Kurzo (right).
“We have a number of competitors who are well known in para-badminton circles but, as always, there may be upsets and surprise performances. This event has a good blend of talent from around the world and that is a positive sign as we continue to grow para-badminton towards Tokyo 2020.”
Meanwhile, various meetings are taking place on the sidelines of the World Championships such as a technical delegates and referees workshop; classification workshop; and courses on recovery, coaching, athlete nutrition and wheelchair maintenance.
“We are making the most of this opportunity – having so many of our para-badminton colleagues gathered together – to share additional information. Thanks to our hosts, Badminton England, who have organised some of these sessions which we think will be very useful to players, coaches and other persons involved in para-badminton,” added Kurzo, urging fans worldwide to follow the championships on live scoring.
Participants at the workshop for technical delegates and referees earlier this week.
BWF home page: Suryo Nugroho of Indonesia is among the athletes competing in the BWF Para-Badminton World Championship 2015 in Stoke Mandeville, England.