Norway’s Helle Sofie Sagoy accomplished something this season that she had never done in her Para badminton career. And it was enough to drive her, as she aims to defend her gold medal at the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Para Badminton World Championships 2017, which is underway in Ulsan, South Korea.
In the lead-up to Ulsan, Sagoy competed in two major international tournaments held in Japan and Spain. In Spain, she won the women’s single SL 4, teamed up with Germany’s Katrin Seibert to take the women’s double SL 3 – SL 5 event, and then won the mixed doubles SL 3 – SL 5 with German Jan-Niklas Pott. Sagoy will compete in all three events this week, with her favourite being the singles.
“I’m very satisfied with my performance from 2017, when I played in Spain in March, I won three out of three events. I have never won all of it before. So that was very fun and it gave me a lot of motivation.”
At the 2015 World Championships in Stoke Mandeville, Great Britain, Sagoy defeated France’s Faustine Noel for the gold. But with the sport making its Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020, the competition has gotten stiffer.
“I’m very excited, and a bit nervous,” said the No. 2 world ranked players.
“My goal is of course a medal, but repeating the gold medal from 2015 in single will be very hard, but I’m going to do my best and fight.”
China’s Hefang Cheng – who won at the international competition in Japan – might not be ranked the highest. But she is one of the unknown forces for her European counterparts.
“I have been preparing very well for the World Championship with a lot of training and traveling,” Sagoy said. “The key to success in Ulsan is to stay focused … and off course give all of my power.”
Sagoy, who was born with Dysmelia and uses a prosthetic in her right leg, got into Para badminton when she 16 years old. The Norwegian Badminton Federation had reached out to her to compete in the sport, and she has since been hooked.
As she looks to retain her title, she also has another target in mind.
“Tokyo 2020 is my big goal,” Sagoy said. “The dream is a medal but first I need to be qualified. I’m looking forward to next year, the tournaments and a lot of good training.”
The BWF Para Badminton World Championships 2017 runs until Sunday (26 November) and will be an important step for many athletes ahead of Tokyo 2020, where the sport will make its Paralympic debut. More information can be found on BWF’s website.