Sports Week: Para badminton athletes to knowHere are some Para badminton players to look out for ahead of Tokyo 2020 05 Mar 2020
The first Paralympic champions in badminton will be crowned this summer, and here are just some of the names who can make history, including home favourites, newcomers and veterans of the sport.
Qu Zimo (China)
Ranked No 1 in the world, the teenager had a sensational 2019, becoming world champion in the men’s singles WH 1 and men’s doubles WH 1-2. He finished the year with three golds in front of a home crowd at the China Para Badminton International and is set to star in his first Paralympic Games.
Kim Jungjun (South Korea)
Having won the past four World Championships, Kim Jungjun is the favourite for gold in the men’s singles WH 2. Despite an ongoing rivalry with Hong Kong’s Chan Ho Yuen, when it has come to the biggest tournaments, Kim continues to prove clutch.
Daniel Bethell (Great Britain)
England’s Daniel Bethell competes in SL 3 men’s singles and doubles and is a three-time European champion. The left hander is currently ranked second in the world, with his latest victory coming in the Japan International in December. Look out for his rivalry with world champion, Pramod Bhagat of India.
Lucas Mazur (France)
Lucas Mazur strengthened his hold on the top spot in the men’s SL 4 world ranking, after winning gold at the Basel 2019 World Championships. It was a bittersweet victory, as his Indian opponent Tarun Tarun retired after twisting his knee. The Frenchman has had a strong season and will be ready for his tougher test yet at Tokyo 2020.
Sarina Satomi (Japan)
The world No 1 missed out on a women’s singles WH 1 medal in November’s Japan International but fought back to claim gold in the wheelchair doubles alongside compatriot, Yuma Yamazaki. She will hope this is a sign of things to come ahead of her home Paralympics.
Liu Yutong (China)
Aged just 15, Liu Yutong is already the world No 1 in the women’s singles WH 2. She became World Champion in August, beating Li Hongyan 21-12, 21-11 in the final, as well as claiming gold in the women’s doubles alongside Menglu Yin.
Leani Ratri Oktila (Indonesia)
Crowned Badminton World Federation Female Para Badminton Player of the 2019, Leani Ratri Oktila will be one of the hot favourites going into Tokyo 2020. She claimed her first world women’s singles SL 4 title in Basel, Switzerland, last year in a season that saw her win 12 gold, two silver and one bronze medals. Few would bet against her adding to her impressive medal tally in Tokyo.
Ayako Suzuki (Japan)
The top-ranked women’s singles SU 5 player will hope to bounce back at this summer’s Paralympic Games, following a disappointing defeat in the 2019 Worlds final. The world hampion from 2017 lost out to China’s Yang Qiuxia in three sets but is expected to come back stronger.