According to Leani Ratri Oktila of Indonesia, physically most top athletes are on the same level and it is mental strength that gives one athlete the edge over another.
Oktila, who with Khalimatus Sadiyah Sukohandoko beat India’s Manasi Girichandra Joshi and Turkey’s Zehra Baglar 21-10 21-10 in the women’s doubles SL3-SU5 category, looked at ease on court at the TOTAL BWF World Para-Badminton Championships 2019.
Looking forward to the week, she cited the Chinese pair of Chen Hefang/Ma Huihui as the thoughest opponents in this category. “Physically we’re in good shape but I know that against the toughest opponents, it is the mental struggle that we will have to overcome to win,” she said.
This sentiment was echoed by Thailand’s Sujirat Pookkham after she ousted Finland’s Heidi Manninen 21-6 21-2 in the women’s WH1 singles.
“I haven’t played this year but I can see that China’s Yin Menglu is strong and fast. She has great balance in the wheelchair but I think I have enough experience, mental strength and confidence to make it,” said Pookkham, who has been nursing a right shoulder tendon injury, and is playing in her first tournament this year.
Korea’s Choi Jung Man has a different opinion and believes it is his skill and experience that will take him through to the podium. Choi who defeated Hoang Manh Giang of Vietnam 21-11 21-9 in the men’s singles WH1 category, is not always able to put a name to the face of his opponents but said: “I’ve been to a lot of tournaments and I usually remember the faces of my opponents. I’ve never played Hoang before so I was relaxed. If I face someone I know is strong, I get tense and tend to make mistakes.”
“There are a lot of strong players here but I try not to label them according to their skill. To me they are all equally strong and I decide how much of my skill I want to use against them in each match,” added Choi.
Also on court on Day 2 were the two contenders for the men’s singles SS6 title, reigning champions Jack Shephard of England and Krishna Nagar of India.
Shephard, the top seed, made quick work of Lie Sun Jong of the Netherlands 21-6 21-6 while it took a little more for Nagar to overcome Frenchman Fabien Morat 21-11 21-17.
“I felt that the shuttle was fast on one side of the court and my shots kept going out,” said Nagar, who believes the SS6 title will come down to a three-way battle with Shephard and England’s Krysten Coombs.
“When playing them I always have to remember to stick to my game and not let them rattle me. Even when I’m down, I have to think about a different strategy but keep playing my game the way I have to.”
Japan’s Toshiaki Suenaga/Akiko Sugino’s system of changing strategy as a match progresses worked easily in their favour today as they defeated Brazil’s Leonardo Zuffo/Cintya Oliveira 21-6 21-6 in the SL3-SU5 mixed doubles.
In the same category, their teammates Tetsuo Ura/Noriko Ito were made to sweat a bit more by Rickard Nilsson or Sweden and Norway’s Helle Sofie Sagoy but eventually won 21-14 25-23. “We’re happy playing here. It’s a great atmosphere. More cheerful than usual and more attention from everyone,” said Nilsson, who also competes in the men’s singles SL4.
“I did not feel like I gave it 100 percent today. Something was off and my shots were not hitting the mark. I’m going to have to dig deep and bring out all that I have done in training and then mentally build my confidence to face the next matches. That’s what will make a difference if I want to win.” – Didin Taresoh, Malaysia, on his performance today.