Para-Badminton action at the Japan International last week (photo credit: Bobby Griffin)
Para-Badminton builds towards greatest Euros yet
Date: 10/4/2018 10:36 AM
Published by : Bobby Griffin (BEC)

The 2018 European Para-Badminton Championships begins in 4 week’s time and this year promises to be the biggest and strongest yet.

With 156 entries from 26 different European nations, Rodez in the south of France will host the greatest European Championships we have seen to date in just a few week’s time. Those numbers surpass the entries to the previous Europeans in Beek, Netherlands 2016 by some margin, and it is no surprise that they do.

Whilst the sport has continued to grow, ahead of Paralympic inclusion in Tokyo 2020, so has the strength of the participants overall. With competition for places and medals breeding higher standards of play at International events, leading to more intense and focussed training programmes, more funding from member organisations and sponsors and more noise generally surrounding the sport as a whole, more disabled athletes turn to badminton.

Not only that, organisations such as the BWF have been making efforts to see member nations participate at major and international events by providing support and funding for countries to enter. Not to mention efforts by the BEC for example, to increase female participation number with the Women in Badminton Scholarship that has helped countries like Cyprus and the Faroe Islands send competitors to the 2017 Spanish International and is continuing to do the same thing now.

These types of initiatives will help build a future for inclusion among nations and also enable elite players the chance to compete for their country at Internationals, majors and even the Paralympic Games in years to come.

Read : "We can achieve a title in Asia soon" (Stoeva sisters)

Pushing towards success

A handful of our European best will be looking to take home a clutch of gold medals this year and have the honour of calling themselves not double, but Triple European Champion. Some of those working towards this glory include;

Karin Suter-Erath (SUI) WH1 took home the gold in women’s singles, mixed doubles gold with Martin Rooke (ENG) and doubles gold with Emine Seckin (TUR) at the 2016 Champs. New doubles partners and Germany’s Valeska Knoblauch breathing down her neck this year will make that achievement difficult to repeat. It may just come down to who wants it most!

Rooke will be looking to make it a double with retention of his WH2 men’s singles title if Israel’s Amir Levi isn’t able to stop him, and if he is also able to take the men’s doubles gold with Thomas Wandschneider (GER). Standing in their way might be WH1 David Toupe (FRA) who not only took 3 silvers at the 2016 Euros, but is the in-form man after taking medals recently in Dubai, Thailand and a gold in men’s doubles in Japan last week. Toupe vs Wandschneider will be another great rivalry to watch in Rodez.

Who will be standing tall in Rodez 

2016 triple European gold medallist Lucas Mazur (FRA) is clear favourite again in the SL4 men’s singles. He and mixed doubles partner Faustine Noel have been struggling throughout 2018 however, with no title yet earned in International competition. Also this year he has stepped up to play in the SU5 men’s doubles category with Meril Loquette, they secured a silver in Japan last week.

“I am very happy with our men’s double performance lately with Meril, we have been working hard this year on preparing for the European Championships in November. We are close to our best at the moment. Singles and Mixed is my priority as we move towards Paralympic Qualification, and there is a lot to improve in mixed for 2020 so we must work a lot harder. For the moment I play 3 events with the aim of a gold in men’s doubles with Meril in Rodez and after that I will focus on singles and mixed.”

One player hoping to ensure Mazur doesn’t lift the SL3-SU5 mixed double title will be Germany’s Katrin Siebert. She and Marcel Adam knocked Mazur and Noel out of the Japan International last week in the quarter-final stages with a 21-19 win in the third game. Another player in the hunt for that mixed title is Catherine Rosengren (DEN), favourite for the SU5 women’s singles title. Gold in singles and doubles in 2016, she took the silver against the French in the final and will be looking to go one better this time.

Short-odds on the English making it another clean sweep

England’s Rachel Choong will be leading the charge for SS6 gold medals. The triple World Champion should find things comfortable enough to defend all 3 of her European gold medals with Andrew Martin and Rebecca Bedford as partners.

And if things go to form, French crowds will be treated to yet another performance of the Jack versus Krysten show. Shephard and Coombs on paper at least should meet in yet another men’s singles final, with Jack Shephard having an incredible 12 months so far, taking almost all of the International titles he has entered with Coombs close on his heels after last week’s Japan final that ended 21-19 in the third game. Shephard the World Champion and Coombs looking to defend his European title.. another mouth-watering prospect

For draws, matches and last year’s winners, please see tournament software here with this link.

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