With the inclusion of Para-Badminton in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics the whole world is upping their game to get those few coveted spots in 2.5 years’ time. This was evident in the most attended and most competitive Para-Badminton World Championships yet, with Asia taking 16 out of the 22 available gold medals and Europe taking 6.
Representing team Scotland were Colin Leslie and Alan Oliver in SL3 class, Mary Wilson in SL4 class, Deirdre Nagle in SS6 and Fiona Christie in WH2, with all 5 athletes playing all three events.
Colin Leslie finished the tournament the most decorated Scot with a last 16 place in all three events. In the SL3 singles event, Colin progressed as second in his group to reach the knock out stages, meeting eventual runner up Manoj Sarkar of India where Colin was defeated in 2 sets. Alan Oliver also representing in the SL3 singles was beaten in his pool by two strong Korean and Indian opponents.
In the men’s SL3-SL4 doubles both Colin and English partner Antony Forester and Alan with Finish partner Rickard Nilson progressed out of their pools in 2nd position and lost out in the last 16.
SL3-SU5 mixed doubles saw three Scottish competitors, Alan with Dutch partner Megan Hollander, Colin with Danish partner Astrid Lihav Riss and Mary with Antony Forester. Colin and Astrid in a thrilling 3-way tie count back came out on top of their group after convincingly beating, Japanese and Thai opponents, loosing out only to fellow Europeans in a 22-20 third set thriller. Unfortunately, they were unable to continue the winning streak losing out to Corrie Robinson from New Zealand and Caitlin Dransfield of Australia in the last 16, who had earlier beaten Alan and Megan in three sets in their pool.
in the WH2 events Fiona having finished 2nd in her pool progressed to the last 16 meeting recent BWF Female Para-Badminton player of the year winner Amnouy Wetwithan from Thailand, where she lost out in straight sets to a very experienced opponent. Playing with Laura-Lee Jenkins and David Follet in the women’s and mixed WH1-WH2, Fiona lost out in both pools and was unable to progress further.
In SL4 singles Mary lost out in the quarter finals to eventual finalist Leani Ratri Oktila of Indonesia in straight sets, and in the ladie’s doubles with Russian Partner Natalia Irmachuck, Mary was unable to progress out of the groups.
Lastly in SS6 Deirdre Nagle having won a game in both singles and mixed with Russian partner Alexander Mekhdiev, were unable to progress due to being in pools of 4. In the women’s doubles Dierdre and Polish Partner Weronika Krzeminska lost to World number 1’s and, in a close 2 sets, to young Polish to finish third in their group.
Coach Kaity Hall was with the team for the event and commented; ‘The level of Para-Badminton at this World Championships is unlike I have ever seen before and I can anticipate that our international events will be stronger within the next few years. The Scots need to keep working hard and look to these champs as motivation and inspiration to continue to try and better their game. Thanks to Badminton Scotland for their support in this event and with the squad sessions over the last year and thanks to Korean Badminton Association for Disabled for running an extremely successful World Championships.