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In just a week’s time, four badminton history makers will fly out to Tokyo to begin their Paralympic adventure.

Jack Shephard, Dan Bethell, Martin Rooke and Krysten Coombs are the quartet who will represent ParalympicsGB in the sport’s eagerly-awaited debut at the Games, with the first day of badminton taking place on September 1.

One of two new sports added to the Paralympic calendar along with taekwondo, badminton is set to capture the imagination once more in the coming weeks and those at the centre of the action can’t wait to get started.

All four travel as realistic medal contenders, with Shephard and Coombs competing in the SH6 category – in which both are ranked inside the world’s top five.

Shephard won back-to-back World Championships in 2017 and 2019 and hopes his big-stage pedigree will stand him in good stead in the Japanese capital.

“I’m pretty confident,” he said. “I’ve shown in previous tournaments I can hold my nerve and rise to the occasion.

“Touch wood, I can go out to Tokyo and do the same. Hopefully I can perform on the day and bring that gold medal back.

“We’ve had such a good training camp coming in to it and I don’t think I’ve ever been in as good shape going into a tournament.”

The 24-year-old had his place confirmed in late June but Coombs had longer to wait before his seat on the plane was sealed, with the world No.5 added to the squad alongside Martyn Rooke a month later.

A European gold medallist in 2016, Coombs is still pinching himself at having the chance to represent his country at Paralympic level.

“We are history makers, whatever happens,” he said. “To be the first para-badminton players to represent Great Britain at the Paralympics is a dream come true.

“We’ll have to balance taking in the Paralympics and being in the village with focusing on what we are there for, which is to medal and do well.”

Rooke, added alongside Coombs after a successful bipartite application, will make his Paralympic debut at the age of 48 in the WH2 category and hopes to add to his haul of four European gold medals in each of the men’s singles and doubles events.

“The motivation is massive,” he said. “We just want to get out there and get going, everyone is buzzing.

“I just want to perform to the highest level I can and if I can do that, I have a chance of bringing back a medal. I want to be tough to beat.”

Bethell will be hoping to continue on from where he left off in the SL3 men’s singles category, having won the 2021 Spain International in the final tournament before Tokyo.

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The three-time European champion, who took silver at the 2019 World Championships, is confident of another podium place this summer and is delighted to be making the trip as part of a full four-man squad.

“We’ve been on this journey together since the start so for all of us to be going together as Paralympians has added to the atmosphere,” he said.

“You could feel the lift in the room when they [Coombs and Rooke] were added and the focus has been amazing in these last few weeks.

“It will be a big learning experience. I’m just going there to play the best I can. If I put my best game forward, I’m a match for anyone in the world.”

The quartet will learn their opponents when the draw is made on August 23 while stay tuned to Badminton England’s channels this weekend to gain further insight into the squad’s preparations as we hear from physio Sinead Chambers.

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