Turkey's Ilker Tuzcu on the podium at the 2018 European Championships (photo credit Badminton Europe / Mark Phelan)
Paralympic Qualifying begins this week in Turkey
Date: 3/24/2019 8:59 PM
Published by : Bobby Griffin (BEC)

The Paralympics ignite as 279 of the world’s elite para-badminton players warm up in Antalya, for the first qualifying event on the Road to Tokyo 2020.

The calm before the storm. You can feel the anticipation in the air this weekend as months of preparations make way for the biggest para-badminton International tournament in history. 

An unprecedented number of entries is no surprise given the circumstances. Badminton makes its Paralympic debut next year in Japan and ranking points earned here this week in Turkey will be the first towards a separate ranking table, just like the able bodied counterparts.

The fifth Turkish Enes Cup entry list reads like a who’s-who of para-badminton stars. The best in the world from all of the main badminton countries succeeding at major events the last two years, join together for a back-to-back fortnight in Turkey and then straight on to Dubai next week for the second international competition of the year.

READ: 3 wins for the Tricolour

Increasing numbers and this increased pressure means that Europeans will have an awesome task ahead of them. China, Japan and India have all arrived with teams of between 20-30 players in a bid to secure valuable ranking points on this first European tour.

The schedule of events over the next 12 months has 14 qualifying tournaments and 3 more back-to-back tours including Thailand-China in September, Japan-Australia in November and Brazil-Peru next February.

Mazur seeks confidence in quest for Paralympic spot

French SL4 men’s singles world number 1 Lucas Mazur has been looking forward to this since the start of his young career. Aiming for qualification in 2 events, he spoke to us about his aspirations and recent preparations ahead of this fortnight.

“I’ve been training at the National Centre since September, a huge change for me and it has been very tough, very physical. I’m looking for confidence here, I need to see what level I am at after 6 months of intense work and of course I’m looking for the win.

I aim to qualify in singles and in mixed doubles with Faustine Noel, and these are big goals. We have the World Championships this year as well, a great test ahead so my aims are to get a good start in the Paralympic qualifying process and to win the Worlds in both events”

Coombs putting it all on the line

England’s former SS6 men’s singles world number 1 Krysten Coombs has been patiently waiting in the shadow of his teammate and rival Jack Shephard these past 18 months. 

Shephard, now world number 1, World and European Champion has deserved the limelight. Unparalleled in any badminton honours list for almost 2 years he has won so many gold medals we almost lose count. It is fair to say that world number 2 Coombs is the current underdog.

With just one guaranteed slot available for these two English SS6 stars on that plane to Japan in 488 days’ time, it will be fascinating to see the two great rivals battle it out on court over the next year. Coombs is in good spirits, saying

“I cannot wait! It has been a good few months since the last competition and I’ve been playing really well in training. These two tournaments in Turkey and Dubai could not have come at a better time for me and I hope to make both finals and win at least one of them.

I’m in a good place and yes I think I can beat Jack. We’re both very focussed and we have great players from around the world to contend with too, it isn’t just each other.

My aim is to qualify for the Paralympics and I need to win 6 tournaments between now and next Spring to give me a great chance of doing that. A great start here in Turkey and Dubai would be the best way to begin this journey and I’m excited to get out there and compete this week.

Look out for updates from the Turkish para-badminton international this week, and news about Europe’s other main hopes for medals from day 2 onwards. 

For the full list of entries, see tournament software here with this link.

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