Sunday, 21 Jul 2024

BWF Olympics: Para Badminton Returns with a Bang

The Para badminton community is thrilled with the news that the first tournament, the Sheikh Hamdan bin Al Rashid Maktoum Dubai Para Badminton International 2021, is back after a long hiatus due to COVID-19. From March 30th to April 4th, more than 130 players from 27 countries gathered at the Shahab Al Ahli Stadium in Dubai, a familiar venue for many of them.

Since January 1st, 2019, players have been earning points in BWF sanctioned tournaments to secure their positions in the Race to Tokyo rankings. However, last year, all events were put on hold due to the pandemic, causing a halt in the qualification process. Although Dubai did not offer any Paralympic qualifying points, the tournament served as a positive step towards a return to competition.

Players expressed their satisfaction with the professional organization of the event, which made them feel almost normal again. France’s David Toupe shared his experience, saying, “Everything looks professionally organized, it almost feels normal. I don’t feel stressed to be back.”

Strict adherence to social distancing and safety protocols allowed the players to feel comfortable and safe throughout the competition. The level of play was exceptional, with even the lower-ranked athletes showcasing their skills and determination. India emerged as the dominant force, securing 21 medals, including five gold, six silver, and ten bronze. France also performed admirably, securing four gold, two silver, and three bronze medals.

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The tournament witnessed some surprising triumphs as well. Ukraine’s Oksana Kozyna couldn’t believe her victory against SL3 world champion Manasi Girishchandra Joshi from India. Malaysian players Muhammad Ikhwan Ramli and Noor Azwan Noorlan were overjoyed with their respective gold medal in men’s singles and bronze medal in men’s doubles.

Effective communication played a crucial role in the success of several doubles partnerships. Russian player Tatiana Gureeva, who won the WH1-WH2 mixed doubles gold with India’s Prem Kumar Ale, emphasized the importance of understanding each other despite the language barrier.

The Dubai event also provided an opportunity for first-time participants to gain valuable experience. Edwin Muruah Mwangi from team Kenya expressed his gratitude for the eye-opening experience, stating, “It’s such a good eye-opener for our team, to play in their first international event, learn from other coaches and players, and see how tournaments are organized.”

With only one more tournament remaining for players to earn Paralympic qualifying points, namely the Spanish Para Badminton International in May, the Dubai tournament served as a platform for overall evaluation. Referee Julien Nys from Belgium summed up the event by saying, “There was excitement all around. Not just the players but officials too, and the organizers have done well to ensure this event ran smoothly. There are many learning points we can take to the next tournaments, but it’s been a good week.”

FAQs

Q: What was the first tournament back for Para badminton after the COVID-19 hiatus?

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A: The first tournament back for Para badminton after the COVID-19 hiatus was the Sheikh Hamdan bin Al Rashid Maktoum Dubai Para Badminton International 2021.

Q: How many players from how many countries participated in the Dubai tournament?

A: More than 130 players from 27 countries participated in the Dubai tournament.

Q: Did the Dubai tournament offer any Paralympic qualifying points?

A: No, the Dubai tournament did not offer any Paralympic qualifying points, but it served as a positive step towards a return to competition.

Summary

The Para badminton community rejoiced as the first tournament, the Sheikh Hamdan bin Al Rashid Maktoum Dubai Para Badminton International 2021, marked the return of the sport after the COVID-19 disruption. Over 130 players from 27 countries gathered in Dubai, showcasing their skills and determination. With a focus on safety and adherence to protocols, the tournament allowed players to perform at their best. India and France emerged as the top-performing nations, securing multiple medals. Surprising victories, excellent communication, and opportunities for newcomers were some of the highlights of this event. With one more tournament left for Paralympic qualifying points, the Dubai tournament offers valuable insights for future competitions.