Hot rivalries, talented teenagers and many more to look forward to at Tokyo 202006 Mar 2020
Chan Ho Yuen will renew a big-time rivalry at Tokyo 2020
By By Tim Norris | For the IPC
1) Hometown hero
Yuma Yamazaki is in line to represent her country this summer in the city where her badminton journey began. She started playing badminton at a young age in Tokyo before an accident changed everything. But having seen Para badminton at a National Sports Festival, she took up the sport again.
She is now ranked second in the world in the women’s singles wheelchair WH 2 – and following a gold medal in the wheelchair doubles at November’s Japan International, Yamazaki will hope to do her two sons proud once again at Tokyo 2020.
2) Teenage triumphs
Two Chinese teenagers look set to light up the wheelchair category. Liu Yutong, 15, is already the world No 1 in the women’s singles WH 2. She became world champion last August, beating compatriot Li Hongyan 21-12, 21-11 in the final, as well as claiming gold in the women’s doubles alongside Menglu Yin.
Meanwhile in the men’s singles WH 1, Qu Zimao finished 2019 as world No 1, becoming world champion as well as securing three golds in front of a home crowd at the China Para Badminton International.
3) Rivalries resumed
One of the biggest badminton rivalries is Hong Kong’s Chan Ho Yuenongoing battle with South Korea’s reigning world champion Kim Jungjun. Chan is the only athlete to have beaten Kim in the men’s singles WH 2 in his career, famously ending his seven-year winning run with a 21-14 18-21 21-13 victory at the Australian International in November 2018. However, having won the past four Worlds, Kim Jungjun is still considered the favourite.
4) An Indian summer
Moving from athletes to nations, India is set to have its biggest ever delegation of athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The team won two golds, a silver and a bronze at Rio 2016 – and after picking up three world titles last year, they will hope to go even better when it comes to the Games.
Leading the charge will be Pramod Bhagat, winner of the men’s singles SL 3 at the 2019 Worlds, as well as world number two in the men’s singles SH 6, Nagar Krishna. Krishna will hope he can repeat his recent gold at the Japan International when he returns to Tokyo this August. His ongoing rivalry with England’s Jack Shephard and Krysten Coombs is one to watch.
5) Para badminton’s Paralympic debut
Para badminton’s maiden Paralympics will feature 14 events at Tokyo 2020 – seven for men, six for women and one mixed tournament. With 90 players (44 men and 46 women) battling it out across singles, doubles and mixed doubles events, the sport looks set to be one of the stories of the Games.