“In singles the opponents are stronger than ever. Almost all competitors can run better than me because of my disability, but I can compensate a lot thanks to my good technique.”
Although ranked No. 1 in the world, Germany’s Katrin Seibert knows there are others in her class who can take a world title away from her, especially her Asian competitors whom she rarely faced this year.
She will meet them from Wednesday (22 November) at the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Para Badminton World Championships 2017 in Ulsan, South Korea.
“In singles the opponents are stronger than ever,” Seibert said. “Almost all competitors can run better than me because of my disability, but I can compensate a lot thanks to my good technique.”
The German leads the women’s singles SL4 category. But she noted that there are six strong Asian competitors in her class, as well as Norway’s defending world champion Helle Sofie Sagoy, whom Seibert lost to in the 2015 Worlds final.
Seibert predicts that China’s Hefang Cheng and Indonesia’s Leani Ratri Oktila could face off for the gold in Ulsan, depending on the draws; each has played in only one international competition this year.
But she hopes she can be part of that mix. Her last competition this year ahead of the Worlds was the Japan International in September, and she took confidence away from there despite an injury.
“Japan was a very important test in preparation for the World Championships,” Seibert said. “I could test how I get on with my disability after such a long flight and the jet lag. And it was important to compete with Asian players and to get to know them better. To take one silver medal and one bronze medal back into the plane was a good feeling shortly before the World Championships.”
In 2007, Seibert had a tumour in her left leg that was highly malignant and turned out to be larger than a fist. Her chances of survival were low. The tumour and some muscles in her leg were removed. After she had radiotherapy she then developed a lymphedema in addition.
“Nowadays I am glad that I am still alive, that my leg still exists and that I still can play badminton, albeit very much restricted,” she said.
Her parents played badminton and even as a small child, she spent a lot of time in the sports hall. She was a German national champion in mixed as a youth, and played on the national team for a bit. Her husband, whom she met while playing the sport, and her daughter also play badminton.
“Badminton has always been part of my life,” she said. “It was an extremely important thing for me that I continue to play badminton after my disease.”
She said her big goal is to take part at Tokyo 2020, where the sport will make its Paralympic debut.
But she has another one: “My goal - or better a dream - is to grab a medal if possible and take it with me to Germany.”
Seibert will compete in the women’s single SL4, women’s doubles SL3-SU5, and mixed doubles SL3-SU5.
Around 270 athletes will compete across 22 medal events at the BWF Para Badminton World Championships 2017, which runs until Sunday (26 November).
More information can be found on BWF’s website