With a number of highly-ranked players missing, the tournament offered some of England’s less well-known disabled players the chance to step up and go for gold. However, England’s stand-out performers over the weekend were from an experienced pair- William Smith and Hazel Johnson, who both returned with two gold medals as a reward for their exertions.
Bobby Griffin (Avon) made a great impression in his first disability badminton tournament, winning gold in the Standing Class 3-5 Men’s Singles after overcoming the experienced Scott Richardson (Beds) 21-14; 21-13. Richardson was able to extract some measure of revenge when he teamed up with Will Smith (Nld) to force Griffin and his partner Meva Singh Desi (Middx) into the silver medal position in the Combined Men’s Doubles final (21-12; 21-11). Smith made it a weekend to savour by claiming the Class 1-2 men’s singles with a 21-13; 21-15 victory over Scotland’s Niall Jarvie.
In the Dwarf category, Krysten Coombs (Devon) was looking to make the most of the absence of European men’s doubles champions Andrew Martin and Ollie Clarke (Kent). After battling to the final of the men’s singles, he was unable to overcome world number one Niall McVeigh, going down 12-21; 17-21. However, Coombs was able to make up for his disappointment in the mixed doubles, partnering Emma Farnham (Ireland) to a fine 21-19; 21-19 win over Deidrie Nagle (Scotland) and Luke Irvine (Ireland).
Hazel Johnson (Lancs) was as dominant as ever in the Intellectual Disability Class 1 ladies singles, easing to a comfortable 21-13; 21-12 victory over Dianne Gillan (Scotland). Johnson then partnered Scotland’s Grant Hunter to victory in the mixed doubles, powering past Gillan and James Pert 21-11; 21-7. Johnson’s club-mates Catherine Carson and Samantha Monk (Lancs) could not emulate her performance, with a loss in the ladies doubles final to Gillan and Claire O’Neill (Ireland) meaning they returned home with a silver medal.
Full Four Nations rankings available soon.