Double Golden Trio Bedford, Knoblauch and Shephard at the 2018 Irish Para-Badminton International (photo credit: Bobby Griffin)
Knoblauch hunting European crown
Date: 6/25/2018 11:11 AM
Published by : Bobby Griffin (BEC)

Germany’s Valeska Knoblauch had the best week of her badminton career here in Dublin, winning 2 gold medals and 1 bronze in the WH1 category.

Knoblauch has gone about her business quietly, and with a certain German efficiency at the 2018 Irish Para-Badminton International. Perhaps the reason her name is not talked about as much as it should be, the reason she has travelled under the radar for so long is due to the triple European Champion.

Somewhat in the shadow of Golden-Girl Karin Suter-Erath for some years, the Swiss player took gold in all 3 events at the European Championships in 2016 in the Wheelchair 1 category; well as of today, that is no more.

The German got the better of Suter-Erath in not one, but two disciplines this weekend to claim gold in both WH1 women’s singles and WH1-2 women’s doubles. She also took bronze in the mixed-doubles with partner Mi Young-Chin.

Read: Russia V France for club glory

Triumph in the women’s singles

The women’s singles win for Valeska Knoblauch here is important for many reasons. It is the first time she has even beaten world number 2 Karin Suter-Erath. It shows that the German is closing the gap on her Swiss rival. And that she is doing so with the European Championships just 4-5 months away. 

Knoblauch, now number 4 in the world rankings, controlled the final from the middle of the first game after a shaky start. Once settled in, she pushed the Swiss star to the wire and closed out the first 22-20. Continuing in the same manner, the second game was a steady dismantling of the Suter-Erath defence and ended 21-12. Delighted with the result, Knoblauch had this to say

“Karin is a great player, and I’ve never beaten her before. I knew it would be tough but our tactics worked more often than they failed. We have a new Head Coach and have been trying new things in training which are starting to have positive effects. I’m looking forward to Thailand, Japan and Denmark later this year and then I think I’ll be prepared for the Europeans which I’m really excited about!”

The Coombs and Shephard Show

England’s Jack Shephard and Krysten Coombs continue to prove they are the strongest SS6 players in the world. 4 out of 5 Internationals in the last year, including the World Championships, these two have met in the final and provided us with a thriller each time.

Shephard has the edge, that much is clear taking all 5 wins, the world number 1 hasn’t been beaten even once in 12 months now. The final today.. 13-21, 21-19, 21,13.

“An amazing feeling, I haven’t lost in 12 months now. It was a great match against Krysten today. I didn’t have a great start, but I had enough fight in the second and third games and kept pushing him. He was tiring. He can turn up any day and play really well, but I do think I have a little edge over him now that I’ve won the last 5 tournaments and that may play on his mind in future tournaments”

The two friends also play together in SS6 men’s doubles and took the title from Hong Kong’s Chu Man Kai and Wong Chun Yim 21-17, 21-11 to make it double gold for Shephard.

Bedford overcomes Flores to take second gold

England’s Rebecca Bedford finally beat her Peruvian rival Carmen Guiliana Poveda Flores, the third time of asking to clinch SS6 women’s singles gold at the Irish International. 

The two have met before twice, and Flores took both wins. Today Bedford came out on top in the 21-19, 12-21, 21-10 victory. Rebecca had this to say

“It was a really tough match and I’m so pleased to have beaten her. I kept calm and mentally had the edge today. 

For a full list of the Irish Para-Badminton International draws and results this week click here

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