Awesome Threesome of SU5 – Para Badminton World C’Ships

Wednesday, August 14, 2019
TEXT BY GEETHANJALI LAKSHMAYYA | ALAN SPINK

The TOTAL BWF Para-Badminton World Championships in Basel, Switzerland will see 240 athletes compete on a stage that is not only set to crown the next world champion but is seen as the main focus point before Tokyo 2020.

Rosengren – Europe’s rising star

Ever since it was announced that Para badminton will be included in the Paralympics programme in Tokyo 2020, the athletes have set their sights on that coveted top step of the podium.

Although the whole Japanese Para badminton team is gearing up for home glory, only one of their women singles players is currently ranked No.1 in her sport class – Ayako Suzuki who competes in the Standing Upper (SU5) category.

Suzuki comes to Basel as the reigning world champion in SU5 but the woman she defeated in 2017 in Ulsan, Korea – Yang Qiuxia – has had a good run since then. Yang of China won the Asian Para Games 2018 title in Jakarta defeating Suzuki in the final.

Suzuki can also expect to face off against Europe’s top SU5 female athlete Cathrine Rosengren of Denmark who will be seeking to avenge her World Championships 2017 semifinal loss to Suzuki.

This year, however, has belonged to Yang with wins over Suzuki that include the 2nd Fazza Dubai International 2019 in the finals and the semifinal of the Turkey International 2019. Yang has also proved a stumbling block for Rosengren.

Since the start of the Paralympic qualification events in 2019, Rosengren has had to settle for second place behind Suzuki at the FZ Forza Irish Para-Badminton International and Yonex Canada Para-Badminton International. She also fell victim to Yang in the semifinals in Dubai and finals at the 5th Turkish Para-Badminton – ENESCUP 2019.

While the year’s results may provide fans with some idea as to how things will shape up in Basel, there are factors that could turn the tables for any of these three women.

Yang is on a winning streak.

Compared to Suzuki’s 10 years on the international circuit, Rosengren has only three in Para badminton but she debuted big by winning that first tournament, the European Championships in 2016. And Rosengren is an old hand at the sport of badminton, having started playing at age nine and participating in able-bodied competitions.

Rosengren, who does not see herself as having a disability, intends to continue playing with able-bodied athletes while focusing on the Para badminton tournaments that will lead her to Paralympic glory.

Yang, whose left arm was amputated due to a snake bite, has been playing Para badminton since 2011 and made her international debut at the China Open in 2015. Since then, she has been the one to watch, with youth and skill giving her an edge.

Yang and Rosengren’s advantage over Suzuki might be age as both are at least a decade younger but all eyes will be on Suzuki, who at 31, is determined to win gold in Basel and in Tokyo.

Apart from her on-court prowess, Suzuki is known for her willpower and desire to succeed, something which she says cannot be attained simply through practice.

Coaches and teammates label her as courageous for her ability to find the mental strength to change things around to her advantage even when a match is going against her.

While Suzuki herself sees Para badminton as a psychological game, she does not discount the physical requirement of the sport. Suzuki says, “Chinese athletes will keep training hard. That is why I have to train harder. I will get the gold in Tokyo!”