Daniel Bethell in half-court action today in Tokyo (credit BadmintonPhoto)
Bethell emphatic against home favourite
Date: 9/1/2021 2:30 PM
Published by : Bobby Griffin (BEC)

One of Europe’s best hopes for gold started his Paralympic bid in fine form today, as he faced one of Tokyo’s biggest challengers.

For the first few minutes of the match, it appeared Daniel Bethell was about to face a huge challenge as Daisuke Fujihara took an early lead. As soon as the Englishman settled into the game however, his class shone through.

A 21-11 first game win took any nerves away as Bethell eased into game two. Happy to play out 70+ shot rallies, Bethell looked more and more comfortable the longer the match went on and Japan’s Fujihara could find no way back from a 14-point deficit as Bethell eased to a 21-7 second game win to take the match.

Dan had this to say after this opening match,

- I've played Fujihara a many times. We always have really close matches - he's a really good player so I knew I had to be on my game. I felt like I had a good game plan going into this match and I stuck to it really well. I'm happy with the result

When asked about his form, he had this to say,

- I feel really good, I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life. I've been training really well and been out here [in Japan] for a few weeks with really good preparation coming in, so I feel confident that I can go for the gold

On the match next up for Bethell, he said

- I'm playing Ukun Rukarendi (INA) next. Like Fujihara, we've played each other many times. He's a great player - he's one of the fittest so I'm preparing myself for long rallies, but I feel really good after that match

Read: SU5 Underdogs triumph on Day One

Mixed feelings about the mixed doubles

Elsewhere Lucas Mazur and Faustine Noel were finding things difficult in the SL3-SU5 mixed doubles group B encounter with India’s Pramod Bhagat and Palak Kohli. 

Dominant in game one, it looked like business-as-usual for the the French number two seeds. Momentum had swung the other way in game two and at 19-19 in the third game, things were tense for the European Champions.

Mazur and Noel managed to hold on for the win, they had this to say after the match

- It was a very hard match for us. our first match, so we looked stressed and it was an eventful game. We were keen to win but we are looking for a better level and a huge congratulations to our opponents today, said Lucas Mazur

- I think we're in the Paralympics so all the favourites can do what they can do but we hope that we have shown and will show a good level for matches. We'll go step-by-step, added Faustine Noel

The Paralympic badminton schedule can be found here, with livestreams of one wheelchair and one standing court.

We will feature the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic badminton event here and across our usual platforms over the next two weeks, look out for more in days to come

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