Krysten Coombs and Martin Rooke have been added to ParalympicsGB’s first-ever Para badminton squad for the Tokyo Games this summer.
The pair join Jack Shephard and Dan Bethell, whose places were confirmed in late June, in the British ranks ahead of the sport’s Paralympic debut in the Japanese capital.
Badminton is the world’s fastest racket sport and is one of two new events added to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games programme, alongside Para taekwondo.
Both Coombs and Rooke earned their places through successful bipartite applications, with such slots being awarded to ensure representation of athletes with high support needs, enable greater representation by gender, and ensure participation of top athletes who may not have had the opportunity to formally qualify through other methods.
European gold in 2016 and world silver a year later count among Coombs’ biggest achievements in a so-far glittering career, and the 30-year-old world No.5 will now showcase his credentials on the Paralympic stage alongside Shephard in the men’s SH6 category.
Ranked third in the world, Rooke has claimed a multitude of international titles over the last decade including four European gold medals in each of the men’s singles and doubles events. He will take his place in the men’s WH2 class.
“It’s been a long journey, but my dream has become a reality,” said Coombs. “I couldn’t have achieved this without the amazing support I’ve had from my family, friends, and teammates.
“The team have been a brilliant support for the past few years, and I couldn’t be more grateful to train and compete alongside them. The fact that all four of the eligible players from the squad have qualified is incredible.
“I’d also like to give a special thank you to my fiancée Alex for being so supportive.”
Rooke said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic that I will be part of the first ever badminton Paralympic squad going to Tokyo 2020. It’s extremely overwhelming.
“The fact that all four players on the GB squad have booked their places on the plane for Tokyo is a testament to our team.
“We have an amazing group of players, coaches and backroom staff. I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their time, effort and help, but most of all my partner Ruth who is the catalyst for everything I do.”
Richard Morris, GB Para badminton head coach, said: “I have honestly never been as happy and proud. We started this journey together and I’m super excited that we get to finish it in the same manner.
“All the players deserve this chance and as a unit we will be at our strongest. I can’t wait for the Games to begin.”
Mark Beecher, Paralympic badminton team leader, said: “Being the Paralympic badminton team leader for our sport’s first Paralympic Games is such a huge honour and privilege.
“To be able to have the full team of players travelling and competing for the medals in their respective sport classes is a culmination of all their hard work, self-sacrifices, and pure determination over the many years they have been focusing on getting to Tokyo.
“The whole team is totally focused on the success we know we can achieve at the Games.”
ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe added: “I’m delighted that Krysten and Martin have both been successful in securing bipartite slots for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“Their inclusion in the ParalympicsGB team is richly deserved and testament to all the hard work they have invested in the sport.
“Para badminton makes its debut at Tokyo 2020 and I’m so pleased that Krysten and Martin now have the opportunity to share in this exciting moment in Paralympic history.
“I look forward to watching them compete on the court in Tokyo in just a few weeks’ time.”
ParalympicsGB badminton squad for Tokyo Paralympic Games:
SH6: Jack Shephard, Krysten Coombs
SL3: Dan Bethell
WH2: Martin Rooke