England’s sole representative, Gobi Ranaganathan, managed to perform admirably amongst a strong field to claim medals in both the Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles events. Despite the cosmopolitan nature of the event, incredibly Ranganathan only played one match against non-Israeli opposition!
Ranaganathan came into the tournament looking to claim significant ranking points in order to break into the Top 5 of the World Rankings in the W3 category – one of the most competitive impairment classification groups. In the Men’s Singles, he received an early bye before defeating Uri Nagar (Isr) in straight games. Unfortunately, in the semi-final Gobi was unable to overcome the experienced Moshe Zahavi (Isr), despite taking the first game. As the hot conditions left Gobi struggling to achieve the control over both racquet and chair which were required, he eventually succumbed 21-16; 9-21; 12-21.
In the men’s doubles event, Gobi teamed up with an old sparring partner, Avi Oren (Isr), and the scratch pairing wasted no time dispatching Kumar & Kalaimani (Ind) 21-12; 21-12. After again being the beneficiaries of a walkover, the stage was set for him to gain revenge over Zahavi and his partner Shimon Shalom (Isr). After an epic 3 game battle, Ranganathan and Oren finally overcame the 2nd seeds 21-17; 16-21; 22-20 to reach the semi-finals. After the fireworks of the previous game, this was a more comfortable affair, and the Anglo-Israeli pair progressing in straight games past another Israeli pair, Bar-hen and Keradi. This set up a final against top seeds and World No. 1 pair Amir Levy and Makbal Shefania (Isr). Despite putting up a good fight, Gobi and Avi’s heroic run came to an end with a silver medal, losing 11-21; 14-21.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on Gold, the double haul represents Gobi’s best performance in International competition. Gobi was supported in entering the Israel International Parabadminton Open by the QPR Community trust and BADMINTON England’s Disabled Player Support fund, which this year has provided funding for 26 athletes to assist their expenses in entering tournaments around the world.