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Badminton England teenager Varsha Kumar recently competed for Team GB at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Banska Bystrica, which sadly ended with her having to retire injured.

The 15-year-old was one of 40 athletes who travelled to Slovakia and she had the honour of being Great Britain’s flag bearer in the opening ceremony alongside cyclist Finlay Tarling.

Kumar was then scheduled to compete in both the girls’ singles and mixed doubles events, set to play alongside Welsh shuttler Harper Leigh in the latter.

Her opening group match in the singles, against Croatia’s Jelena Buchberger, got off to a promising start as Kumar won the opening game 21-16, but her opponent turned the contest around by taking the other two to claim victory.

There was then an Anglo-Irish clash as Kumar came up against Ireland’s Michelle Shochan in what turned out to be a very closely-fought match.

Shochan edged the first game 22-20 before Kumar fought back bravely in a second game that went right to the wire, with Kumar eventually winning it 24-22, only to suffer defeat for a second time.

She kept her hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive with a victory in straight games over Austria’s Anja Rumpold.

Kumar was dominant in taking the first game 21-10 before she held her nerve in a tighter second to take it 21-18 and claim her first victory of the tournament.

Unfortunately, her competition ended in heart-breaking fashion as she was forced to retire injured while trailing 8-5 in the first game of her final group match against Germany’s Marie Stern.

It meant Kumar was unable to compete in the mixed doubles alongside Leigh, with their first-round opponents, Stern and her German team-mate Luis Pongratz, being handed a walkover.

Despite this, Kumar can be hugely proud of her efforts in Slovakia, where she gained some vital experience in showing she can compete with some of the best players in Europe.

Varsha Kumar’s results 

Lost 16-21 21-15 21-15 to Jelena Buchberger (Croatia)

Lost 22-20 22-24 21-15 to Michelle Shochan (Ireland)

Beat Anja Rumpold (Austria) 21-10 21-18

Lost 8-5 retired to Marie Stern (Germany)

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