England’s Para-Badminton stars took full advantage of a Tokyo 2020 dress rehearsal last week, winning nine medals, including three golds in the newly announced Paralaympic disciplines, at the Daihatua Japan International.
It is less than three years until the Para-Badminton world descends on Tokyo for its Paralympic debut but this well attended international, the latest in a busy tournament calendar, provided an ample yardstick to gauge global talent with 175 players from 30 nations competing.
For England, it offered another opportunity to lay down their markers as a world force – and, as we have come to expect on the world scene, they did not disappoint.
The big winner was Jack Shepherd who struck double gold in SS6 mens singles and men’s doubles alongside Krysten Coombes, who also won singles silver.
And there was success to in the SL3 SL4 category where Daniel Bethell and Bobby Griffin saw off a truly global field including rivals from India, Australia, Japan, Spain and the French top seeds, en route to men’s doubles gold.
Bethell and Griffin’s gold also carried extra significance in that they beat the world number one pair to take spot – and all having shaken off injuries in the build up.
“So proud of our performance this week, considering Dan had a broken foot eight weeks ago and I was laid up with a back problem for a month in the lead up to the Japan Open” Griffin said on Instagram.
Bethell also added SL3 men’s singles silver to his weeks haul.
For the four gold medallists, each will be hoping for a return to Japan in Team GB colours in three years time.
It was, however, a bitter sweet tournament for Para-Badminton superstar Rachel Choong, who was once again the class act in the entire field winning gold in all three SS6 events in which she entered.
But Choong will not be in the mix come Tokyo 2020 after the women’s events and SS6 mixed were not included to be showcased on the Paralympic roster.
Speaking on Twitter before another landmark hat-trick of titles in Japan, Choong said it was “quite poignant but momentous decision” that she would not be fulfilling her lifelong dream of making her Team GB Paralympic debut in Tokyo.
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.