Krysten Coombs experienced the full range of emotions the Paralympic Games can offer after beating team-mate Jack Shephard before losing his second match at Tokyo 2020.
The two Brits are close friends but went head-to-head in the men’s singles SH6 Group A encounter and Coombs got off to a flyer, winning the first game 21-12 after capitalising on uncharacteristic errors from world No.1 Shephard.
Shephard fought his way back into the contest but Coombs rallied strongly to wrap up the second game 21-12 and seal a straight sets victory in the Yoyogi National Stadium.
Coombs’ joy was short-lived as he was unable to make it two wins on the spin, succumbing 21-15 21-10 to Hong Kong’s Chu Man Kai, but he was still pleased with his performance.
“I just couldn’t get that final little bit that would get me through to win it. I’m pleased with how I played. I did my best and that’s the main thing,” said Coombs at the conclusion of his two matches.
Reflecting on his tussle with Shephard, the 30-year-old said: “It was amazing to just experience the whole thing, to just get here now and be able to compete in the stadium, and to be able to do it with one of my best friends.
“We knew it was going to be tough that we’d have to play against each other in the first game, but I think to be able to both do it together, it’s just amazing.
“We said this in the beginning, we’re in this group together, so let’s both get through this group.”
Both ParalympicsGB’s stars can make the weekend’s semi-finals as two players progress from a group of three.
However, Shephard must beat Coombs’ conqueror Chu to stand a chance of qualifying with Group A potentially being decided by count back.
And the 24-year-old relished the chance to play at the Paralympics as the sport makes its debut in Japan.
He said: “It’s absolutely amazing, it’s been a dream of mine – and I’m sure it has Coombs’ – to be here for a long time and the day has come. It’s felt pretty special to play in a Paralympics.”
After Daniel Bethell blazed the trail as Paralympic GB’s first badminton player yesterday, it was the turn of Martin Rooke to fly the flag as the first Brit in the WH2 event.
And the 48-year-old got off to a fantastic start, recovering from losing the opening game 18-21 to Thailand’s Dumnern Junthong, to pull off a 2-1 win by taking the next two 21-15 21-12 to open his account in Group B.
After a nervy first set, Rooke can rest safe in the knowledge that victory has secured his spot in the quarter-finals alongside his next opponent, China’s Mai Jianpeng.
“Obviously, nerves played a big part in my first set, I was a bit nervous, didn’t adapt to the conditions as quick as I should have done and once I got rid of my nerves, I relaxed,” he said.
“I knew that I could come through and it’s all about me being calm and just taking my time and me doing what I want to do and not worrying about what he’s doing.
“Being here is incredible. How can you put it into words?
“Like all of us, Daniel’s the first SL3, I’m the first WH2 of Britain to go into the Paralympics. What an honour.”
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