The Yoyogi National Stadium in readiness this week (credit Sabron/BWF)
Another milestone in the Paralympic journey
Date: 11/10/2019 9:32 AM
Published by : Bobby Griffin (BEC)

Tension builds up as the Paralympic Test Event gets underway in Tokyo.

Para badminton stars are now moving towards the final stages of preparations for the inaugural Paralympic Games which will be held next year in Tokyo.

The Japan Para badminton International begins on Wednesday this week and doubles up as the Paralympic Games Test Event. Two hundred and three players make up the entry list, where events will be limited to only those classes that will feature in the Games next year.

The Paralympics will showcase just 90 of the world’s best Para badminton players in singles, doubles and mixed doubles across six sport classes. Only four qualifying tournaments remain in the Road to Tokyo calendar, with the Japan International being the last of 2019.

Read: Last Europeans out of Fuzhou China Open

‘We go to compete and win, but we’re also friends’

Germany’s Valeska Knoblauch will be one to watch at the Japan Para badminton International next week. 

The current European champion fell to number two in the world rankings after a quarterfinal defeat to Yin Menglu at the World Championships in Basel in August. She earned some revenge with a straight games win against the Chinese player in Hangzhou six weeks ago, to help gain the German’s third title of the season.

But it’s not Yin that she cites as a threat, it’s world number one Satomi. According to Knoblauch Japan’s Sarina Satomi the WH1 world champion is the toughest challenge in singles.

- She has had consistently good results in her latest tournaments and is rightly the world champion as she is already a very complete player regarding her abilities, she told the BWF this week.

Knoblauch was 14 when at school she jumped up to sit on the classroom windowsill with her friends. Not realising the window was open, she leaned back and fell out, landing on her spine.

- Becoming the world No.1 and now having the opportunity to play in the very first Paralympics is a very big deal to me. I doubt I would have ever experienced this if I had been a person without a disability, said Knoblauch, who is currently second in the Race to Tokyo rankings.

Since the European Championships in 2018, Knoblauch and her teammates have been training together under a national coach who also travels with the German Para badminton team to tournaments.

- We go to compete and win but we’re also friends. We look forward to meeting at each tournament, to catch up on each other’s lives because we’ve all known each other a long time. It’s a very special atmosphere and I’m honoured to be a part of it. And it’s so much fun as well, she added.

For a full list of the Japan Para badminton International 2019 entries, see tournament software here

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