Toby Penty at the Sudirman Cup 2019 (Credit: Badminton Photo)
"It has caused anxiety and self-confidence issues"
Date: 6/12/2019 9:00 AM
Published by : Annika Langrock
Since half a year, Toby Penty has been dealing with an autoimmune disease. The result: permanent hair loss. Badminton has become even more important for the 26-year old now.

Toby Penty has alopecia areata, in other words: spot boldness. Resulting from an autoimmune disorder, the Englishman is losing his hair, which falls out in round batches. 

- It started back in November, before I played at the Hong Kong Open. Until the end of January, it was manageable but then, the rate of it happening picked up a lot quicker, Penty said.

No cure against alopecia areata

Because of this autoimmune disease, Penty’s body stops his hair from growing again. There is just a tiny chance, that it might grow again one day. A cure against alopecia areata is not existing yet. 

- The fact that you are dealing with something that is mostly out of your control, and seeing it also getting worse over time, has not been the easiest thing to deal with. It has caused quite a lot of anxiety and self-confidence issues, Penty revealed. 

- These are not the feelings that are going to help, when you go to tournaments, trying to compete. It was hard for me to prepare for a match, after coming out of the shower with handfuls of hair falling out, he added. 

“On court, I feel like myself”

Dealing with his physical and psychological situation, badminton has been helping Penty a lot.  

- In the last months, the most comfortable place for me has been the training court, either in Wimbledon or Milton Keynes. On court, I feel like myself. Everywhere else, I felt uncomfortable and low in myself most of the time, he stated. 

- My main goal now is to enjoy life more and try to worry about it all a little less. The people around me are supporting me very much, he added. 

With the next tournaments coming up, Penty can now focus on his performance on court.  

- I am very driven and focused on my training, day in and day out. I can still have that mindset but be able to keep a smile on my face and have good fun with the people I am practicing with. 
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