For Korean wheelchair badminton star Kim Jungjun, the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships on home turf marks a signpost in his quest for Paralympics gold.
On current form, the Korean WH 2 player is a hot contender to defend the World title, and he wants to maintain his golden touch until the Tokyo Paralympics.
Kim (featured image) has a formidable reputation among his peers, as he has never lost an international match since he started playing in 2012.
“Getting to the Tokyo Paralympics is the main goal, and winning the gold of course,” says Kim.
With the world’s biggest para-badminton tournament on in his home country, Kim believes it will set him on the path to winning the gold in Tokyo.
“I’m confident of doing well here,” he says. “My family and friends will be watching me. We have been training hard and my condition is at 100 percent.”
Kim is a professional athlete who trains for five to six hours every day. “The key to my success is the amount of training we do – I work for a company team and I’m a full-time player. I started badminton at 29 – it’s been 11 years now.”
Kim is happy that Korea has had the opportunity to host the World Championships.
“It’s great to have the World Championships in Korea. It’s a good opportunity for us to showcase our Korean culture. There are a lot of places to visit in Ulsan. An event like this is a good opportunity to meet people from around the world.”
Cruz ‘Realistic’ About Chances
Simon Cruz Mondejar isn’t aiming too high at the ongoing BWF Para-Badminton World Championships; the Spaniard says he would be happy with a quarter-final place.
Mondejar has been in six previous championships and had a title shot in Guatemala in 2011, where he finished with a silver medal in his MS SL 3 category.
“I’m very happy,” he says. “I’ve played six championships and I finished second in 2011. The level right now is very high, especially with the Asian players. If I make the quarter-finals, that would be good enough for my level. I played in Japan (Hulic-Daihatsu Japan Para-Badminton International in September this year) and all these players were there, so I’m realistic about my chances.”
Mondejar lost his left leg when he was 22 in a work-related accident. He wipes a tear when asked what badminton means to him.
“I’ve been playing since 2007 and I’m dedicated to badminton. I get emotional when I think of it. I’m who I am because of badminton and sports, and I’m thankful for that. Badminton is my life. I’m happy because of badminton.”
His countrywoman Carolina Marin has become the face of badminton in Spain. Mondejar has trained with Marin and says the country is ‘lucky’ to have her.
“We have to take care of her; we’re lucky that she and Rafa Nadal are from Spain. I know her as I’ve sometimes practiced with her in Madrid.”