Lisburn Racquets Club played host to the 4 Nations Para-Badminton Series 2012 Irish Championships over the course of the weekend – and the small contingent of English players travelling to the event continued to dominate the top step of the podium.
Center Parcs – supported Team England Para-Badminton stars Martin Rooke (WH2, Herts); Rachel Choong (SS6; Lancs) and Bobby Griffin (SL4; Avon - pictured) all spent the entire weekend unbeaten, each returning home with three more 4 Nations Gold medals to add to their already impressive collections.
In addition, Andrew Martin (SS6; Kent), Gobi Ranaganathan (WH2; Herts), Jack Shephard (SS6; Yorkshire) and Jenny Greasley (SS6; Hants) also enjoyed success.
Rooke, the reigning European Champion and World No. 1 was made to fight all the way for both his WH2 and Combined Wheelchair Men’s Singles titles by friend, doubles partner and rival Ranganathan. The Combined event final was a tense affair, with Rooke eventually prevailing in three games: 16-21; 21-14; 21-17. The WH2 final, with ranking points on offer, followed and was a more one-sided affair, as Ranganathan ran out of steam to give Rooke a 21-18; 21-15 result.
With both on the same side of the net, the European Champion pair delivered a harsh lesson in power para-badminton, demolishing Irish pair Chris Stewart/Paedar Heffernan 21-7; 21-2 in the final of the Combined Wheelchair Men’s Doubles.
Choong, Team England Para-Badminton’s golden girl, again swept the board in the Short Stature group at a 4 Nations event and kept her remarkable unbeaten run intact.
After sailing through the group stages of the SS6 Women’s Singles, the Liverpudlian ended the hopes of Staffordshire’s fast improving Rebecca Bedford with a consummate performance culminating in a 21-7; 21-2 victory. Choong then quickly settled into the winning groove with her regular doubles partners Jenny Greasley and Andrew Martin to take the remaining spoils on offer – the SS6 Women’s Doubles final seeing a 21-14; 21-6 victory for the English pair over Ireland’s Emma Farnham and Deidre Nagle, and the SS6 Mixed Doubles final ending in a 21-6; 21-5 win over the exciting young English pairing of Bedford and Jack Shephard.
Martin couldn’t quite emulate his mixed partner as he missed out on the SS6 Men’s Singles final to the world No. 1 and his longstanding rival, Niall McVeigh from Ireland. As has become a tradition between the two, the final was a thrilling three-end battle – unfortunately from the Kent man’s perspective the balance of power rested this time with McVeigh, who prevailed 16-21; 21-13; 21-15.
Martin found some consolation in retaining his SS6 Men’s Doubles crown despite the absence of regular partner Ollie Clarke. Teaming with Shephard, the scratch pair took down the young Scots-Irish pairing of Bobby Laing and Andrew Moorcroft with a 21-7; 21-16 result, made all the more impressive as it occurred at Shephard’s first tournament since the talented young player from Sheffield returned from major surgery on both legs.
Bobby Griffin found himself returning to form strongly after missing out on Gold at the 2012 English and Welsh Championships. Living up to the billing of favourite in his strongest event, the SL4/SU5 Men’s Singles, he outclassed Scotland’s David Purdie in the final to take a straightforward 21-13; 21-11 victory.
Griffin then proved his versatility by switching to half-court for the Combined Standing Men’s Singles, taking a decisive 21-12; 21-10 win over Scotland’s half-court specialist Niall Jarvie. Finally, he teamed with Ireland’s Stephen Halpin to take the Combined Standing Men’s Doubles crown with a 21-14; 21-14 triumph over Scottish pair David Purdie/Colin Leslie.
Disability Manager Tom Webster praised the high standards maintained by Center Parcs – supported Team England Para-Badminton’s leading lights:
“The players who travelled to Ireland, travelled with all the expectation that comes with being overwhelming favourites to win and absolutely delivered on that.
Once again, the performances across the English contingent were exceptional.”
The next tournament on the Para-Badminton calendar is the Middlesex Para-Badminton Tournament, taking place on the 13th January – a great opportunity for ambulant disabled and short-stature badminton players to get involved with competitive Para-Badminton.
For more information on the tournament, contact Tom Webster