Daniel Bethell in action at the European Championships last year (credit: Badminton Europe / Mark Phelan)
It’s a vision we’ve always had: ONE SPORT
Date: 8/18/2019 3:44 PM
Published by : Bobby Griffin (BEC)

Today is a landmark occasion for para-badminton as the TOTAL BWF World Championships and Para-Badminton World Championships are hosted together in Basel, Switzerland 

BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer remarked today, during his opening speech at the Welcome Party, how he cannot remember the last time he sat and watched 30 minutes of play on warm-up day at any event. He did this morning, in Hall 3 of the St. Jakobshalle in Basel where para-badminton standing players were training, followed by another 30 minutes watching the wheelchair warm-ups in Hall 2:

"I didn’t leave until I had to, I was enjoying every minute!”, he said.

The venue in Basel has hosted nearly 30 years of Swiss Open events, the European Championships in 2014, and not only is this the first time that Swiss Badminton has hosted the World Championships, but they go down in history as the first time a venue is shared with the Para-Badminton World Championships at the same time. A feat that truly encompasses the use of the term “para” meaning ‘beside’, ‘alongside’ or ‘parallel-to’ in the word Paralympics in reference to the Olympic Games.

315 players meet, from 49 nations across five different continents here in Switzerland, results this week are not only important for the right to become world champion for the select few, but also a crucial step on the Road to Tokyo 2020 rankings.

Read: Mixed doubles preview

Being world champion has always been my biggest goal

Two years ago Team GB’s Daniel Bethell was the world number one in SL3 men’s singles, but a year fighting injury saw him side-lined for many events and saw his ranking slip. With a full-time training programme hosted by the English Institute of Sport and with UK Sport funding, Bethell has managed to get back to his best and has climbed back to the top of the sport.

His main rival, India’s Pramod Bhagat has the most international title wins under his belt over the past two years, and battles between the two men have been epic. This week’s performances replace those ranking points earned from the 2017 World Championships and minus those, these two SL3-Greats are on an exact even keel. The stage could not be set better. We caught up with Bethell this week:

- I don’t really think about the rankings. The standard of para-badminton has gone through the roof and there is a pattern of playing the same players in events which we are getting used to. I feel better now as a player than I did two years ago when I was world number one, that’s the important thing, he said.

- Being world champion has always been my biggest goal. I set out to become UK champ, then European champ, then the world number one. I’ve achieved all of those and I have two targets left: world champion and Paralympic champion. Achieving another target this week would be amazing and really important with double-ranking-points at stake in Paralympic qualification year, he added.

We asked Daniel what this week means for him and for the sport, with the two major events being held together:

- For the sport, this is massive. We’ve always had this vision of being one-sport, and this is going to be a really good way to showcase para-badminton alongside the able-bodied game, and give a lot of exposure to the para side of the sport and open a lot of people’s eyes to what para-badminton is all about. Hopefully it will do a lot for the sport as a whole, he stated.

The Para-Badminton World Championships 2019 draws and results can be found on tournament software here.

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