Friday, 14 Jun 2024

History in the Making: Badminton debuts at the Paralympic Games

History will be made on Wednesday as badminton takes center stage at the Paralympic Games for the first time. The Yoyogi National Stadium will witness five days of exhilarating action as the sport crowns its inaugural Paralympic medalists across 14 disciplines. Let’s take a closer look at some of the athletes who are eager to etch their names into the record books.

Men’s Wheelchair (MS WH1/MS WH2/MD WH1-WH2)

The men’s wheelchair categories are divided into WH1 and WH2 disciplines for singles, with both categories coming together for the doubles competition. WH1 is for athletes with impairments in both lower limbs and trunk and/or high spinal cord injuries, while WH2 athletes have one or more impairments in their lower limbs, including above-the-knee amputations, and minimal or no trunk impairment.

Reigning world champion Qu Zimo, representing China, is among the favorites in the WH1 category. He will not only compete for individual glory but also team up with Mai Jian Peng in the doubles, as they aim to build on their 2019 world title.

South Korean pair Lee Dong Seop and Lee Sam Seop, ranked first and third in the world, respectively, are confident contenders in the WH1 singles. Lee Dong Seop will also join forces with Kim Jung Jun in the doubles.

In the WH2 category, Kim Jung Jun has clinched the last four singles world titles consecutively and aims to maintain his reign in Tokyo. He enters the competition at the top of the world rankings and faces tough opponents like Kim Kyung Hoon from his own country and New Zealand’s Grant Manzoney in Group A. Hong Kong’s Chan Ho Yuen and Great Britain’s Martin Rooke are the top-ranked players in the other two groups.

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Women’s Wheelchair (WS WH1/WH2/WD WH1-WH2)

Chinese teenager Liu Yutong is the woman to beat in the WH2 category. Despite losing both her legs in a car accident at the young age of four, Liu rose to world number one by the age of 15. In 2019, she secured world titles in both singles and doubles. Liu will team up with Yin Meng Lu in the doubles event, while Thailand’s Amnouy Wetwithan and Japanese favorite Yuma Yamazaki are expected to provide strong competition in the singles.

Japan holds strong medal hopes in the WH1 singles, thanks to reigning world champion Sarina Satomi. Satomi is confident of securing a podium place alongside Yamazaki in the doubles as well.

Men’s Standing (SL3/SL4/SU5/SS6)

The men’s singles SL3 category is played on half a court by athletes with cerebral palsy, bilateral polio, or loss of both legs below the knee. In Tokyo, two groups of three players each will battle it out. The 2019 World Championship finalists, Pramod Bhagat and Dan Bethell, remain the top two ranked players in the world. Bhagat, who faces compatriot Manoj Sarkar in the group stage, emerged victorious in Basel, but Bethell will be eager for revenge.

In the SL4 category, eight competitors are vying for gold. This category is for athletes with an impairment in one or both lower limbs, unilateral polio, or mild cerebral palsy. Frenchman Lucas Mazur and India’s Tarun Dhillon have been in a fierce rivalry, contesting the last three World Championship finals, with Mazur clinching the most recent two titles. Their competition is expected to be renewed in the latter stages of the Paralympics.

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In the SU5 discipline, which is for athletes with impairments in their upper limbs, the 2019 World Championship finalists, Dheva Anrimusthi and Suryo Nugroho from Indonesia, are drawn in the same group. This promises an exciting showdown between the two.

The SS6 category is for athletes with short stature, and it features a thrilling head-to-head battle between world champion Jack Shephard and Krysten Coombs from the same nation in Group A. India’s Krishna Nagar, ranked second in the world, is the frontrunner in Group B.

Women’s Standing (SL4/SU5)

Leani Ratri Oktila from Indonesia stands out as a top contender in the women’s SL4 singles. In 2019, Oktila was named World Federation Female Para Badminton Player of the Year after an impressive performance, including winning the World Championship title. With her outstanding track record, she is confident of adding more medals to her collection this summer. Oktila will compete in Group A, while other top-ranked players such as Japan’s Haruka Fujino, Norway’s Helle Sofie Sagoey, and China’s Cheng He Fang are favorites to secure semi-final berths.

In the SU5 singles, Ayako Suzuki, an experienced player, will face off against rising star Yang Qiu Xia. These two athletes have battled it out in the last two World Championship finals, each emerging as the winner once. Suzuki will rely on home court advantage when competing in Tokyo.

FAQs

Q: When will badminton be played at the Paralympic Games for the first time?
A: Badminton will make its debut at the Paralympic Games on Wednesday.

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Q: How many disciplines will be contested in badminton at the Paralympics?
A: There will be a total of 14 disciplines in badminton at the Paralympic Games.

Q: Who are the favorites in the men’s wheelchair category?
A: Reigning world champion Qu Zimo is among the favorites in the WH1 category, while South Korean pair Lee Dong Seop and Lee Sam Seop are confident contenders in the WH1 singles.

Q: Who is the woman to beat in the WH2 category?
A: Chinese teenager Liu Yutong is the woman to beat in the WH2 category.

Q: Which athletes are the top-ranked players in the SL3 and SL4 categories?
A: Pramod Bhagat and Dan Bethell are the top two ranked players in the SL3 category, while Frenchman Lucas Mazur and India’s Tarun Dhillon have been competing fiercely in the SL4 category.

Summary

Get ready for history in the making as badminton makes its Paralympic debut. Athletes from around the world are eager to etch their names in the record books across 14 different disciplines. Favorites such as reigning world champion Qu Zimo, Chinese teenager Liu Yutong, and the experienced Ayako Suzuki will battle it out on the court. With fierce competition and inspiring individual stories, the Paralympic badminton event promises to be an exhilarating spectacle. Don’t miss out on witnessing these incredible athletes make their mark at the Paralympic Games. For more information and updates, visit our website.