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The road to Paris begins for the parachute squad Sport-rated




February 16, 2023

The road to Paris begins next week for England’s parabadminton players, with the first qualifying event for the 2024 Paralympics taking place in Spain.

Vitoria-Gasteiz hosts Parabadminton Internacional de España, the inaugural event of the 2023 BWF Parabadminton World Tour, giving the world’s best players a vital opportunity to seal early ranking points.

A total of 15 English players, including Jack Shephard, Krysten Coombs, Isaak Dalglish, Daniel Bethell and Rachel Choong, will be in action as they look to get the new season off to a successful start.

With anticipation building, Para GB head coach Rich Morris is pleased his team is fresh and ready to face the tournament head-on.

“It’s been really good to do training blocks leading up to Christmas, where we worked on some new areas of development, and knowing that the tournament was the third week of February, we had some downtime over Christmas to recharge our batteries,” he said.

“The athletes were eager and raring to go in the first week of January. We are in the middle of another training block, working on areas that we think are important and that we have managed to close before traveling to Spain.

“Now the emotions are getting to where they need to be, the nerves are coming out, which is good, because it pushes people to another level that isn’t normally there. It gives that buzz, that feeling about the environment that I love.

“There is nothing better than training in an environment where we leave as we are. We’re so up for it, everybody’s getting excited.

“There are over 300 entries for the tournament, which is the biggest side tournament to date, so everyone is trying to get the blocks out early and get some points on the board for the Paris qualification.

“That kills the excitement, I think all the top 12 in our discipline are there, so the standard is where it should be: everyone is excited.”

There is a full calendar ahead this year and during the first part of 2024 that will allow qualification to the Paralympics, where parabadminton will be featured for the second time.

Great Britain recovered two medals from the sport’s debut in Tokyo, with Dan Bethell taking men’s singles Sl3 silver and Krysten Coombs taking men’s singles SH6 bronze.

And Morris knows that while the pressure is on his charges from the start, they all have full faith in their own abilities.

Morris added: “If you win a Tier 2 event in the first one that increases your level, you have all the points you need in the level and it’s a big weight on your shoulders.

“If you go out early or underperform, you may be trying to catch up all year and have to win rather than improve. When you factor in potential injuries, if you can rack up a good solid number of points that put you on your front foot.

“The medals are minimal for all of them, and they have their sights set on the highest, that is not my pressure, it is from themselves.

“I love that they’re reaching for the stars and aiming for the top, and they’ve all changed recently — they’re playing well.”

The action begins next Monday and ends on Sunday, February 26. You can be up to date with all the results and raffles here.

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