Daniel Bethell (second left) with Europe's best SL3 men in 2018
Bethell – ‘stronger than ever’
Date: 12/28/2020 1:51 PM
Published by : Bobby Griffin (BEC)

England’s Daniel Bethell says he is in a better position now than before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

We spoke with the world number two SL3 men’s singles player during a ‘home tournament’ in early December, a competition designed by Team GB to give focus to a team where no other event exist right now. This event has been eagerly awaited, in a year where few tournaments survived, explains Bethell

- for me it has been even longer since I’ve played a tournament. Where many competed in South America in the Spring, I haven’t played since Japan in November last year. It has been a really different experience this year compared to last, where we were travelling around the world almost monthly for a qualifying tournament for The Games

- it has been great to have a long training block underneath me, despite the COVID-19 lockdowns I have been able to get my head down and focus on my weaknesses, and now I’m actually feeling stronger than ever, added Bethell

A contrast to the feedback from many Para badminton players, on how they have coped over the last 6 months, Bethell seemed very positive. We asked him why he felt things were going well for him right now, he had this to say

- it has been really restrictive at times, but honestly as a team we really have made the best of the situation and of the resources we have been able to utilise. I think we have come out in a better place than when we went in. I feel a stronger player for it.

- I love pushing myself physically and mentally, and you need to enjoy the training to be able to come in and spend 5-6 hours a day here, but ultimately my goal is to compete at the highest level at tournaments and I keep that in mind everyday, he went on to say

The tournament hosted at the Team GB Para badminton training center was inspired by the Head Coach, and used as a platform to give each of the squad a focus at the end of this difficult year. We asked why this is important, Bethell said

- I’ve had to focus on getting all of the routines back in place to compete, to get rid of any ‘rust’ so that I’m 100% ready for every match this week. I want to use these performances to push me onto Spain in the Spring, which will be a real measure of where I am compared to the other top players. I’m really looking forward to that run up to the Paralympics next year.

Read: What a year! 2020 in review

Les Francais en piste

World Champion and world number one SL4 men’s singles player Lucas Mazur struggled in Brazil and Peru earlier this year, unable to add a win to his impressive CV. Both times with defeats to different Indian players, yet he is still favourite to lift Paralympic gold in Tokyo next year.

The Frenchman had similar results in the SL3-SU5 mixed doubles, where Mazur and partner Faustine Noel lost in both finals to cement their position as second seeds for The Games. It is worth mentioning that Faustine Noel is the only European likely to qualify in all 3 events; singles, doubles and mixed for the Paralympic Games.

French teammate Matthieu Thomas will be fighting hard in Spain for what might be crucial SL3 men’s singles ranking points, to help keep him in the running for a seat on the plane to Tokyo next summer. He is currently 8th in the Race to Tokyo rankings and likely 6th once two of the four Indian players are removed from eligibility.

Look out for further updates from Para badminton this week on the usual platforms

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