Special Olympics Badminton Thriving in Latin America

Special Olympics Badminton Thriving in Latin America
Thanya Monserrat Gehrmann López (R) in action at the Special Olympics.

This World Badminton Day, BWF and Special Olympics are celebrating the remarkable growth of badminton in Latin America.

Since 2020, the number of Special Olympics badminton programmes in the region has doubled, creating more opportunities for athletes to engage in the sport.

Thanya Monserrat Gehrmann López from Paraguay is a shining example of this growth.

Competing at the Central Bádminton Club in Asunción, Lopez collected a mixed doubles silver medal at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023.

Reflecting on her journey, Lopez said: “Badminton helps me socialise more, especially when I get asked ‘what is badminton?’ It helps me want to improve myself every day as an athlete, and someday, become a professional player or a coach. Thanks to badminton, I am motivated to know more about myself and what I can achieve.”

In Chile, Francisca Belén Baldevenito Guadalupe, affectionately known as Fran, discovered badminton through her school and quickly fell in love with the sport. “Playing badminton helps me stay healthy.  I love being able to represent my country and my school while also getting to know new friends,” Guadalupe said.

Special Olympics partner Gallagher has been instrumental in supporting this growth, helping to provide equipment, coach education, and training sessions. There has been a 107 per cent jump in badminton participants, and 159 per cent increase in certified coaches.

As badminton continues to flourish in the region, the upcoming 2024 SOLA Regional Games and the Special Olympics World Games in Santiago, Chile, in 2027, will shed more spotlight on badminton.

“I would love for more people to know about badminton so it can grow, and we can have more partners and opponents, it would be super fun and that way we could have a huge badminton family,” added Lopez

Find out more about World Badminton Day 2024

Guadalupe (R) says playing badminton keeps her healthy.