Bartlomiej Mroz in action in the Netherlands (photo credit : Badminton Europe / Mark Phelan)
High hopes for Europe with low Asian entries in Japan
Date: 9/23/2018 8:49 AM
Published by : Bobby Griffin (BEC)

The Japan International gets underway in Tokyo tomorrow and with a field only two-thirds as strong, Europe are looking to build on the 6 gold medals taken in the same competition last year

If Poland’s SU5 Bartlomiej Mroz has a performance this week that he is capable of, all of the gold medals in the standing men’s singles classes may be dominated by Europeans this week in Japan. 

It is a big IF however. 

The reliable Monsieur Lucas Mazur (FRA) will need to show once again that he is the undisputed king of SL4. The English duo of Jack Shephard and Krysten Coombs will be fighting tooth and nail towards another SS6 final in a draw that lacks the main rivals from Hong Kong China. England’s Daniel Bethell has been stricken by injury for 18 months and is back for his first test of SL3 half-court singles since Dubai in April, and he is missing rivals from India. 

And of course things won’t be easy for Mroz. Although the world numbers 1 and 2 are absent from the SU5 list, Singapore’s Tay Wei Ming is strong and Taiyo Imai of Japan will take some beating here in his home city.

A mere 112 entries to this year’s Japan International, significantly less than the 175 players we saw at the same event last year, and a number of countries lacking representation. In fact 8 of the gold medal winners from the 2017 event are missing which provides a huge opportunity for the rest of the world.

Read : Astrup/Skaarup surprised themselves with epic victory

Why the increased chances for Europe?

Significant absences include representation from China, Indonesia and Malaysia. It also appears that South Korea are represented by something of a B-Team.

The main reason for the drop in numbers here is the 3rd Asian Para-Games which commences next week. A very important event in the calendar, this multi-sport event parallels the Asian Games, recognised by the IOC and held every 4 years. With various high profile players focussing on that tournament, the Japan International, it seems, is too close to the Asia Para Games for many to attend both.

Notably, qualifying for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will start in the Spring 2019, just 6 months away where ranking points throughout the Para-Badminton qualifying period to Summer 2020 will mean everything to those players on that road.

European hopes elsewhere

WH2 men’s singles sees England’s Martin Rooke and Germany’s Rick Hellman as top picks for gold, ranked 6 and 7 in the world respectively. SL4 has Katrin Siebert (GER) and Faustine Noel (FRA) aiming to lift the women’s singles trophy. WH1 women’s singles features Karin Suter-Erath (SUI) and in-form Valeska Knoblauch (GER) in the hunt for gold.

In doubles, there is a likely gold medal from England’s SS6 men Krysten Coombs and Jack Shephard, especially with the aforementioned Hong Kong absence. Rooke (ENG) and Wandschneider (GER) could upset the remaining Korean and Japanese pairs in the WH1-2 men’s doubles. And anything could happen in the standing and wheelchair mixed doubles events where many top seeds are absent.

For a full list of the Japan Para-Badminton International draws and results this week click here

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