Host England as well as India and Korea celebrated rich rewards as the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships closed yesterday with exciting finals at Stoke Mandeville Stadium.
Each country grabbed four golds in the 21 medal categories, with England’s Rachel Choong and Korea’s Lee Sam Seop being the toasts of the tournament with three golds apiece.
Competing in SS 6 sport class, Choong (BWF home page) boasted winning performances in Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles. Having secured the Women’s Doubles gold with Rebecca Bedford on Saturday, the 21-year-old then retained her singles crown by beating her partner 21-13 21-2 in yesterday’s final and teamed up with Andrew Martin (below) to inflict another loss on Bedford and Jack Shephard in the Mixed Doubles showdown (21-16 21-4).
The triple World champion was thrilled with her success as she and other para-badminton athletes look ahead to the sport’s debut in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“I hadn’t realised I was the first English player to win three (golds) in the same championships and that feels amazing.
“I’m going to be up on cloud nine for a good while. It means more also as it’s in England. Only my mum was with me when I won in Germany so having all my family here to see me become World champion again today really has been the icing on the cake. I am so happy,” said the Liverpool native, speaking to Badminton England.
England’s fourth gold came in Men’s Doubles SS 6 where Shephard, with the help of Krysten Coombs, turned the tables on Martin and Isaak Dalglish, wresting the World title, 21-11 21-16. Malaysia’s Didin Taresoh broke the hosts’ stranglehold on the short stature class, blitzing Martin 21-13 21-16 in the Men’s Singles finale.
Meanwhile, Lee Sam Seop dominated the wheelchair competition, not only remaining the Men’s Singles WH 1 champion but adding the Men’s Doubles WH 1-WH 2 (combined classes) and Mixed Doubles WH 1-WH 2 titles to his trophy cabinet.
The top-seeded Korean overcame Germany’s Thomas Wandschneider in the singles final, 21-9 21-12; won Men’s Doubles with Kim Kyung Hoon (21-17 19-21 26-24) versus their team-mates, Kim Jung Jun/Lee Dong Seop; and took Mixed Doubles honours with Kim Yeon Sim (above). They beat Thailand’s Jakarin Homhaul/Amnouy Wetwithan, 23-21 21-17.
In a repeat of the 2013 Para-Badminton World Championships final, Kim Jung Jun won the all-Korea tussle versus Kim Kyung Hoon, 21-19 21-16, to retain his title and secure his nation’s fourth gold medal; two less than the six golds they collected in Dortmund, Germany.
India enjoyed golden runs in Men’s Singles SL 3 and SL 4, with victories for Pramod Bhagat and Tarun Tarun (right) respectively. The latter retained the title he won in 2013, triumphing over France’s Lucas Mazur, 18-21 21-10 21-15, in the final. However, his team-mate Bhagat thwarted a similar quest by Pham Duc Trung of Vietnam to continue his reign as king of the SL 3 class. Bhagat dethroned the defending World champion, 16-21 21-3 21-16.
Teaming up for the Men’s Doubles SL 3-SL 4 final, Tarun and Bhagat fell 7-21 21-14 21-6 to their team-mates, Anand Kumar Boregowda and Manoj Sarkar. India also took gold in Mixed Doubles SL 3-SU 5, with Raj Kumar and Parul Dalsukhbhai Parmar getting the better of another Indian duo, Rakesh Pandey and Manasi Girishchandra Joshi – 21-10 21-19 in the final.
Malaysia was also in winners’ row, with three golds. Apart from Taresoh in Men’s Singles SS 6, Cheah Liek Hou contributed two with a repeat golden double. The SU 5 athlete retained his Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles World Championships; beating Polish opposition on both occasions.
In individual competition, Cheah prevailed over Bartlomiej Mroz (21-16 21-12) and returned with Hairol Fozi Saaba to defend the doubles gold which he won in 2013 with Suhaili Laiman. The Malaysians rebounded to squeeze past Mroz and Ilker Tuzcu, 18-21 21-13 21-16.
Thailand also got two golds through Amnouy Wetwithan in Women’s Singles WH 2 – upsetting defending champion Lee Sun Ae of Korea (21-14 21-12) – and Wetwithan and Sujirat Pookkhum (above) in Women’s Doubles WH 1-WH 2; 21-8 21-14 over Korea’s Kang Jung Kum and Kim Yeon Sim.
Helle Sofie Sagoy of Norway will also return home with two golds; in Women’s Singles SL 4 and Women’s Doubles SL 3-SU 5, partnered by Germany’s Katrin Seibert. The two remaining gold medals went to Julie Thrane of Denmark (Women’s Singles SU 5) and China’s first-time entrant, Wang Ping in the Women’s Singles WH 1 competition. A total of 223 players from 37 countries competed in the biennial, four-day tournament.
Danish Delight: Julie Thrane is overjoyed at capturing gold in the Women’s Singles SU 5 competition.
See tournament website for all results and list of medallists: BWF Para-Badminton World Championships 2015.
Text by Gayle Alleyne | Alan Spink