As the Para-Badminton world eagerly awaits confirmation of which classifications will be added to the official Paralympic roster for Tokyo 2020, last week’s Spanish International in Majorca gave some telling indications of the sport’s world order – and England are firmly established within it.
Over 150 players competing under 26 national flags made up a global entry in Spain that saw 8 nations , including Asian challenge from Korea and Malaysia, win titles.
The English, so dominant as a European force and with 5 world champions in their provisional squad for Tokyo, topped the medal table but will be ever more wary of the Korean WH threat and a Scandinavian charge being led by three title champ Helle Sofie Sagay from Norway and Denmark’s SU5 star Cathrine Rosengren.
Once again England’s world class showed in SS6 classifications. Rachel Choong, who alongside Karin Suter-Erath is Para-Badminton’s leading female figurehead, was again a big winner, winning both SS6 singles and mixed doubles, alongside Andrew Martin.
And Choong was one of three English players who picked up two titles with fellow SS6 competitor Krysten Coombes winning men’s singles before adding the men’s doubles title with Jack Shepherd with a 21-16, 21-16 win over Ireland’s Niall Mcveigh and Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Yim.
Coombes had earlier beaten Shephard in the men’s singles final – a fixture which is fast becoming a frequently played head to head on the international scene.
There was English glory too in the SL3-4 classification with Daniel Bethell coming home with double gold having won men’s singles and men’s doubles alongside Bobby Griffin.
ethell continues to get stronger and stronger each time he steps onto court. His SL3 men’s singles win, beating Spain’s Simon Cruz Mondejar 21-6 21-6, was particularly eye-catching, matched only be an impressive 21-14 21-16 men’s doubles win over the top seeded French pair of Lucas Mazur and Mathieu Thomas.
And like in recent tournaments on the world stage, the English medal haul was a colourful one with Rebecca Bedford adding SS6 silver and Martin Rooke adding WH2 bronze. Rooke’s reward was backed up by SS6 bronze medals for Andrew Martin, Oli Clarke, Krysten Coombes and Isaak Dalglish.
A strong YONEX Belgian International 2017 campaign for Peter Briggs and Tom Wolfenden ended with a silver medal after an exciting men’s doubles final on Saturday.