From upsets to sideline encounters, Para Badminton turned heads when it debuted at the Paralympic Games at Tokyo’s National Yoyogi Stadium. Here are some of the highlights.
Malaysia’s best para shuttle arrives at the Tokyo 2020 games Like Hou Cheah had won two titles at the Para Badminton International Events in Dubai 2021 and Spanish 2021. He was certainly the title favorite and Cheah continued the momentum in style to win the sport’s first Paralympic gold medal.
Cheah took sweet revenge by defeating his Indonesian arch-rival Dheva Anrimusthi 21-17, 21-15 for Malaysia’s maiden Para Badminton medal. He later dedicated his medal to all Malaysian badminton lovers.
Cheah’s training stint with Rashid Sidek, the former coach of Malaysian badminton legend Lee Chong Wei, was one of the main reasons for his success.
China topped the table, taking 10 medals, including five gold medals from the 14 to be won.
Qu Zimo has been a sensation in recent years with two World Championships and two Asian Para Games titles, as well as the BWF Player of the Year award in 2019, and he lived up to his reputation by winning two gold medals in Tokyo.
Zimo’s titles in men’s singles WH1 and men’s doubles WH1-WH2 with Mai Jianpeng were among the highlights for China in para-badminton. It also showed that the Korean stronghold in wheelchair events was weakened after Zimo Lee defeated Sam Seop in men’s singles WH1 and Kim Jung Jun and Lee Dong Seop in men’s doubles WH1-WH2 final.
In the SU5 women’s singles final, China’s Qiuxia Yang shocked top seed Japan Ayako Suzuki with a comfortable 21-17, 21-9 victory.
More gold came to China when prodigy and top seed Liu Yutong defeated her compatriot Tingting Xu 21-15, 21-15 to take a 1-2 position in the WH2 women’s singles final.
OKTILA, THE GOLDEN GIRL
After numerous medals at international para badminton meetings, world championship titles and the BWF Para Badminton Player of the Year Award, Leani Ratri Oktila finally lived her dream. She became Indonesia’s golden girl and won both gold medals that the country won at the Tokyo 2020 games.
Overall, Indonesia placed 43rd with 35 medals.
In women’s doubles SL3-SU5, it took Oktila and Khalimatus Sadiyah just 32 minutes to defeat Chinese world champion duo Cheng Hefang and Ma Huihui 21:18, 21:12.
On the final day, Oktila, alongside veteran Hary Susanto, mastered the challenge of French duo Lucas Mazur and Faustine Noel.
In singles, however, Oktila fell against her Chinese nemesis Hefang; The latter avenges the double loss of her wives with the gold.
Nineteen-year-old Daiki Kajiwara caused the biggest upset in para-badminton events when he ended Korean legend Kim Jung Jung’s Paralympic gold medal dreams.
Kajiwara’s medal was one of two gold medals won by hosts Japan at National Yoyogi Stadium and emerged as the final day’s star. The little-known Kajiwara, who only made his international debut in 2018, didn’t have a major result to boast of before the Paralympics.
What made the Fukuoaka resident’s victory special was that he didn’t lose a game, defeating the six-time world champion 21-18, 21-19 to win the WH2 gold medal in men’s singles.
Kajiwara didn’t think about dominating the wheelchair category after that gold medal, he was quite appreciative and appreciative of everyone who supported him on his journey.
The prodigy has certainly raised his profile as a major medal contender for Paris 2024.
Trailing 4-12, it would take a Herculean task to break the eight-point deficit. But the tenacious Pramod Bhagat of India rode on his confidence and experience to make an incredible comeback and score on 15 before taking the lead. And the rest was history. Bhagat eventually won the SL4 men’s singles final against Britain’s Daniel Bethell in 45 minutes 21-14, 21-17.
Bhagat’s amazing performance was not surprising. The Indian had delivered what was expected of him. This was the result of the “hard work” done during the lockdown which had boosted Bhagat’s confidence. And the four-time world champion showed once again why he is the best in the business.