Dubai Para: Debutants Relish Positive Vibe

Dubai Para: Debutants Relish Positive Vibe
Bree Mellberg

Day 1 of the 4th Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2022 saw new talents make their international debut.

“I lost but I’m here for the first time. I was excited in the first game and then relaxed in the second. I want to watch other players and learn the different playing styles,” said Venla Salo of Finland after her 21-3 21-8 defeat to India’s Jyothi in the Standing Lower (SL4) women’s singles.

Australian Bree Mellberg, Salo’s fellow BWF Female Participation Grant 2022 recipient, had a calmer approach, drawing on her experience as an elite wheelchair basketball athlete to deal with the pressure.

“I enjoyed today and appreciate the experience. It’s allowed me to understand where I am on this stage. It’s such a positive vibe here and I want to keep playing because I love what I do,” said Mellberg, who was defeated by Korea’s Hyun Ah Kwon 21-6 21-6 in her first Wheelchair (WH1) women’s singles group match.

New Zealand’s Wojtek Czyz expressed similar emotions after the Paralympic track and field medallist lost 21-13 21-11 in the SL3 men’s singles to Ukun Rukaendi (Indonesia).

“This is my first competitive international match and he’s very good. I was excited and tried to enjoy my game. This match helped me see where I am and what I need to work on. I lack technique and I knew I wasn’t going to win so there was no tension.”

Czyz explores the beauty of badminton.

Niall Mcveigh (Ireland) may have lost his first Short Stature (SH6) men’s singles match to Korea’s Lee Daesung 11-21 21-17 14-21 but he was in good spirits.

“It was a long match but that’s sport. You don’t always win. It’s just really good to be playing,” said the 31-year-old.

McVeigh in action.


“Badminton is like chess. You need to read the game and your opponent. It’s not like a 100m race where you just focus on yourself and run. Badminton is a beautiful game where you have time to think, where you play with and against the person in front of you.” – Czyz


“When I started (internationally) I was 18 and there were about seven of us in SH6. Now it’s great to see a larger number of SH6 athletes, both men and women. That’s what the Paralympics has done for the sport. I missed Tokyo 2020 by one spot but now that there’s mixed doubles in Paris in 2024, all I need is a partner.” – McVeigh