Photo: Badmintonphoto
Mary Wilson: they have named a sausage after me
Date: 5/22/2020 8:58 AM
Published by : BEC staff

An inspirational Q&A with Para badminton player who survived a Taliban attack while in the army, battles multiple sclerosis and now is chasing her Paralympic dream. 

Mary Wilson, following a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 2004 which put a halt to a 20-year career in the army as a high-ranking Psychiatric Nurse, has embarked on a Para badminton journey over the last three years. The 56-year-old Scottish SL4 player discusses her highs and lows in her career, her big dreams, the status of Para badminton and what the future may hold for the sport. 

What is your best memory as a Para badminton player?

- Playing women’s doubles with a Chinese partner who I had not met before, against the number two seeds from Japan and winning in a nail-biting three games to get through to the final.

What is your biggest disappointment as a Para badminton player?

- That would be not realising that my opponent in singles changed from legal serving to illegal serving and the umpire did not call it. The tournament referee even came over and watched the game but was not allowed to say anything. I lost the match, which I had been winning easily.

How did your badminton journey begin?

- When I was seven years old, my parents used to ‘drag’ my brother and I along to the local leisure centre every Thursday evening and we played doubles. I loved it but my brother hated it! 

Rocket into the limelight 

What is your ultimate dream in Para badminton?

- To be selected for the Paralympics.

What is your next biggest goal? 

- To be re-classified, as I am under review at the moment for a year, and will be seen by the IPC Classification Board in February next year.

How do you see the status of Para badminton at the moment?

- Funding is a major issue. I use my war pension and have funding from a charity called ‘Path To Success’. They sponsor 12 female athletes for three years. Also, my local butchers have named a sausage after me and I get a commission from each sausage that they sell. Unfortunately, neither of the amounts that I am given go anywhere near what I need to attend tournaments and the related costs. Many countries are fully funded which makes the financial stress much easier for their players.

What have you seen change in Para badminton over the past three years?

- The professionalism has become much more serious with players ignoring each other and being so much more focused on the badminton itself and not the comradeship it used to bring along with it. I do find this quite sad.

How do you envisage the future of Para badminton looking like?

- I see it continuing to rocket into the limelight of the world of sport in general. It is an exciting and crowd-pleasing sport which will help make it even more popular than it already is.

Read: Cheryl Seinen: I was quite surprised that I was chosen

The incredible journey 

What does Para badminton being included in the Paralympics for the first time mean to you?

- For me, it has reached the pinnacle it deserves and is thought of as one of the most elite sports on this planet. I am so proud to be part of this incredible journey and be a good enough player to be involved with the twists and turns that I am sure it will take. It excites and motivates me, keeps me fit and determined to do better each time. I love it!

How will this positively impact Para badminton?

- I think it is fantastic Para badminton is at the Paralympics for the first time. It shows it is a serious sport and helps raise awareness all over the world. Having the Para Badminton World Cup played alongside the able-bodied elite in Basel was amazing. People who had not watched Para badminton before were able to come in and watch elite Para players for the first time. We were also able to watch in real life the able-bodied players battling it out in the hall next door. It was a win-win situation. I hope this happens more and more as it can only be good for the whole sport in general.

Lastly, what would you change in the sport?

- That is a difficult question. It has changed so quickly over the last 18 months that I am sure it will continue to keep changing. I think the classification categories need to change to make it fairer. There are too many physical differences in the same class which need to be addressed if BWF is going to make it a fair sport for all.

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