World no. 6 Wheelchair Men’s Singles W3 badminton player Gobi Ranganathan underlined his class in his first tournament for almost a year - taking 2 titles at the 4 Nations Welsh Parabadminton Championships last weekend.
The Hertfordshire based player has spent 10 months on the sidelines following major surgery but it looked like he’d never been away from court as he swiftly reached the W3 Mens Single Final without dropping a game.
Ranganathan, however, did not have it all his own way in the last 2 against Buckinghamshire’s Martin Rooke.
The Phoenix Badminton Club player had won W3 titles at the English and Scottish Championships in 2011 and showed early signs of causing an upset in Wales, taking a tight first game 21-18.
However, Gobi was soon into his old groove, fighting back to take the following two ends 21-9, 21-13 to claim the title.
And Ranganathan soon doubled up his success, partnering Owen Kilburn to the Combined Men’s Doubles title with a 21-15, 21-15 win over Devon duo David Follett and Rowan Crossman in the final.
It turned out to be a productive 4 Nations for Owen Kilburn, who would also go on to enjoy titles in the W1&2 Mens Singles event [with victory over Phillip Tew] as well as the Combined Mixed Doubles crown.
The 21-11, 21-14 victory, alongside Paula Robinson, in the Final of the Combined Mixed Doubles was particularly notably as it ended dreams of a ‘Golden Hat trick ‘ for Ranganathan on his return to action.
Likewise Kilburn’s partner, Paula Robinson, also returned to the Midlands with 3 Gold medals, coming from behind to defeat Nicola Crow (Wales) 11-21, 21-16, 21-12 in the final of the Ladies Wheelchair Singles before partnering Fiona Christie (Scotland) to a 21-10, 21-11 victory over Hannah Baldwin and Katherine Last (Devon) in the final of the Combined Ladies Doubles.
In the Dwarf event, Rachel Choong (Lancs) continued her dominance of the 4 Nations Series. Choong has been untouchable for a number of years, and confirmed that she remains a class above by taking the Ladies Singles, Ladies Doubles and Mixed Doubles in a consummate display.
Choong’s Mixed Doubles partner, Andrew Martin (Kent), will be content with one Gold and one Silver medal, as he was unable to overcome Ireland’s World Singles No. 1 Niall McVeigh in the Men’s Singles final.
Krysten Coombs (Devon) stepped up in to the spotlight in the absence of Martin and regular partner Ollie Clarke in the Men’s Doubles, partnering McVeigh to a decisive 21-13, 21-14 win over Shaun Dunford (Wilts) and Jack Gambrill (Beds).
There was no such dominance to report in the Standing events, where medals were shared around. Despite battling bravely through to the final of the Standing Class 1&2 Mens Singles event, Will Smith (Nld) could not overcome pre-tournament favourite Conor McFarlane (Scotland) succumbing 21-10, 21-17 to win silver.
Avon’s Bobby Griffin followed up his success at the English Championships in May by scooping the Class 3-5 Men’s Singles, overcoming the experienced Bruno Forbes (Middx) 21-12, 21-12 in a repeat of the final which took place at Stoke Mandeville.
Forbes had his revenge, however, in the final of the Combined Men’s Doubles, partnering Daniel Lee (Essex) to victory over Griffin and Steven Moodie (Scotland); 23-21, 13-21, 21-9.
In the Learning Disability classes, recent Special Olympics World Games medallist Hazel Johnson (Lancs) underlined her ability by taking both the Class 1 Ladies Singles and Ladies Doubles titles.
Johnson, who performed so admirable recently in Athens, will be delighted to continue her excellent form by beating Diane Gillan (Scotland) 21-10, 22-20 in the Singles final and partnering Rachel Thomas to glory in the Doubles.
Johnson’s Bolton Lads & Girls Club BC club-mate, Sam Muschamp (Lancs), will also be delighted with securing two Silver medals and Gold in the Mixed Doubles, partnering another BLGC player, Samantha Monk.