Hi, I’m Tom Webster – BADMINTON England’s Disability Manager. Since my appointment in mid-March, I’ve been the lead for disability badminton. Although I am part of the Development team, I work across all departments of BADMINTON England to co-ordinate our disability badminton strategy.
Badminton is a sport for everyone, regardless of any physical, sensory or intellectual impairment. With small amendments to the playing areas, non-disabled players can play against or alongside players in wheelchairs or with mobility impairments.
The most talented disabled players can progress to the Four Nations Disabled Badminton Championships. In recent years this has been hosted here in England, in Liverpool in 2009 and Manchester in 2010, linked directly to the European Championships. Recently a number of exciting developments have taken place which should further help to improve disability badminton in England. A coaching course has been developed which will teach coaches how to deliver quality sessions to disabled participants. To complement this, several disability-specific and inclusive ‘mainstream’ clubs have a thriving disabled membership. In addition we hope to raise the profile of the sport amongst our members and the general public with a dedicated section on the BADMINTON England website.
At elite level, England already boasts 13 players in the World’s Top 10 across various impairment classifications. This bears well for future medal prospects as the Badminton World Federation continue to press for inclusion in the Paralympic Games by 2016.
European Badminton Championships for the Disabled – 21st-24th May 2010
13 English players travelled to the Swiss Olympic Centre at Kerenzerberg, high in the Alps, for the 7th European Badminton Championships for the Disabled, taking on the best the continent has to offer in one of the most prestigious disabled badminton tournaments in the world. Kent pair Ollie Clarke and Andrew Martin were the biggest success stories, teaming up to take Gold in the Dwarf Men’s Doubles, squeezing Devon’s Krysten Coombs and Ireland’s Niall McVeigh into Silver medal position. Clarke then made it a weekend to remember by beating McVeigh to claim the Men’s Singles in a thrilling finale; 21-19, 15-21, 21-19. Antony Forster (Avon) was England’s other Gold medallist, triumphing in the STU5 Men’s Doubles alongside German partner Frank Deitel without dropping a game. After progressing serenely to the final they wrapped up the Championship with a win over Turkish pair Eser and Tuzcu 21-11, 21-17.
England finished the Championships a highly creditable 3rd in the medal table (2.5G, 3S, 4B) behind Germany (4G, 2S, 6B) and Israel (4G, 3S, 4B).