August 23, 2022

Dan Bethell has hailed his friendly rivalry with India’s Pramod Bhagat as the key to World Championship success.

It’s just two months until the 2022 BWF Para Badminton World Championships in Tokyo and England have already left a season of podium positions in their wake, including four medals at the recent Thailand Para Badminton International.

Bethell joined teammates Rachel Choong and Jack Shephard on the top of the podium as he clinched victory in the SL3 men’s singles.

The 26-year-old world number one beat Bhagat 21-13 21-19 in the final, completing his perfect tournament and not dropping a single game.

He said: “I was really pleased to not drop a set in that field. In SL3 it was the top 12 in the world so everyone was there and every single match I just felt really good.

“I felt like we had a clear idea for what we wanted to get out of the week and executed it really well.

“It was my first tournament since I became world number one again so I had that extra bit of pressure on me.

“I felt like I had to put up a good performance to match that ranking and it felt really good.

“There’s always things to improve on, and I knew that as the week went on it was going to be harder and harder.

“Coming off the back of my semi-final, I thought that was my best result and how it went, so coming into my final against Pramod who I’ve played lots of finals with, I knew anything could happen and I had to keep my focus.”

Bethell and Bhagat have a history of final face-offs with the England shuttler also taking the title at the 2022 YONEX Canada Para Badminton International recently.

It marked revenge for Bethell, after Bhagat came out on top at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, beating Bethell 21-14 21-17 for gold.

Now, with four out of five victories in 2022 against the Paralympic champion, Bethell believes that their continued rivalry is a blessing in disguise and hopes a solid block of competition can propel him to the title of world champion in November.

He said: “We’ve played a lot so we have a good bank of knowledge on him, what he likes to do and what his strengths and weaknesses are.

“Us having a rivalry like this has been brilliant for me, losing to him in the Paralympic finals was probably one of the hardest things of my career but then obviously gave me a bigger drive to work out what needed to do to beat him.

“Every time I’ve played him this year, he’s come out better and stronger than he was before so going into the Worlds he’ll be at his best.

“It’s great for the sport to have a rivalry like this but for me as an individual it’s been brilliant to push me in training and get ahead of him to get those gold medals when we meet in finals.

“We’ve now got a really clear picture of what we need to do to make me the best I can be for the World Championships.”

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