18 August 2019

Britain's best to break new ground at Badminton World Championships

Britain’s Para badminton stars are salivating over the prospect of non-disabled and disability events being staged side by side for the first time at this week’s World Championships.

Hot on the heels of the inaugural UK Para Badminton Championships, top players will compete simultaneously at the global events staged at St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland.

Krysten Coombs, fresh from being crowned SS6 national champion earlier this month, says the move is a great step forward for Para badminton and will showcase the sport like never before.

“It’s something the whole team is looking forward to. We all can’t wait,” said the 28-year-old, seeded second behind compatriot Jack Shephard.

“We go to the Yonex All-England every year and do a Para demonstration, which always goes down well. It’s a product people love watching.

“This will be ten times better. This is far from a demonstration, it’s the real thing, our World Championships.

“I think it will just show everyone what the sport is. It will be alongside the non-disabled event and hopefully get the same amount of media and attention.

“It’ll be a great starting point. By the time the Paralympics come around, people will know the categories and know what they’re watching.

“It’s a bit of a test for Tokyo, when there are cameras on you, the spotlight’s on you and the pressure is higher.”


I'm in a very good place looking ahead to the World Championships

Martin Rooke

Double European medallist Coombs is expected to be among the medals in Basel on the back of a confidence-boosting win over India’s Nagar Krishna in Ireland, the current Tokyo ranking leader.

Joining the SS6 world number one Shephard and Coombs in the team are Daniel Bethell, Rachel Choong, Rebecca Bedford, Andrew Martin and wheelchair athlete Martin Rooke.

Rooke is a man of many talents. He played semi-professional football in Hertfordshire for several seasons and competed for England in gymnastics.

He is eight years into his Para badminton career and a three-time European champion, hungry for success on the Paralympic stage in Tokyo.

After a period of full-time training at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, Rooke feels better than ever and on the brink of a major medal haul.

“My standard of play has risen massively in the last eight months because I’ve been training full-time,” he said.

“I’m fitter, I’m stronger and my ability to adapt in games is much, much better than it used to be. I’m in a very good place looking ahead to the World Championships.

“Coming away with a medal would be a success, but everyone wants to win gold.

“I’m playing good enough badminton to do so, it’s all about putting it all down at the right time.

“Qualification is going extremely well, I just need to keep fit, health, strong and it’s about getting on that plane next year.”

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