Ilker Tuzcu in action at the last European Championships in Rodez (credit Badminton Photo)
Paralympic pressure begins to mount
Date: 2/4/2020 9:20 AM
Published by : Bobby Griffin (BEC)

The Paralympic qualification process comes to an end next month, with three tournaments remaining to secure final places at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Twenty-one Europeans, including fifteen singles players and six doubles pairs, are in the hunt to be among the 90 players from all over the world that will represent their country in Japan this summer.

The Paralympic Games will feature fourteen different Para badminton sport classes, meaning 14 gold medals will be at stake in Tokyo from Wheelchair, Standing and Short-Stature events.

Each of the sport classes will have a maximum draw of between six and eight players or pairs. And whilst there are already favourites to secure many of the places, the final three tournaments on the Road to Tokyo can realise or smash a Paralympic dream for many.

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Some of those 90 Para badminton players will feature in more than one event at the Games, and the priority lies with doubles. Taking wheelchair men’s doubles as an example, where a pair is made from class WH1 and WH2, the top pair in the world will qualify for WH1-2 men’s doubles and also go into each of their respective singles draws.

No guarantees for some of Europe’s best

The double-header in South America from next Tuesday will begin the final phases of qualification, as players travel to Brazil this weekend to prepare for the first International tournament of 2020. Most will travel straight on to Peru who will host their first-ever International, before heading home for a short break in preparations for the final tournament along the Road to Tokyo in Spain in March.

Turkey’s Ilker Tuzcu is one man who’s Paralympic dream hangs in the balance. A bad injury at his home international in March 2019 meant Tuzcu missed out on crucial qualification points throughout the year and lies tenth in the SU5 men’s singles ranking.

All is not lost for the Turk as he and SL3 partner Halime Yildiz are inside the top eight in the SL3-SU5 mixed doubles ranking. Qualifying Tuzcu for the Games via the mixed-doubles rankings may be at the cost of someone like Meril Loquette (FRA) who is currently sixth in SU5 singles.

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England’s Martin Rooke will need to continue to ignore ranking points and just win as many games as he can if he wants to make it to the WH2 men’s singles contest in Tokyo. Currently fifth in the rankings, his fate may be decided by the number of rivals who qualify through men’s doubles.

His teammate Krysten Coombs is another player who’s future may be decided by others. In the only class where there is only one route to the Games as there is no SH6 doubles event, Coombs is likely to finish third in the ranking list, behind England’s Jack Shephard. If we are to see Coombs in Japan this year, it will be thanks to a bi-partite award.

To follow the Brazil Para badminton International 2020, see tournament software here for draws and results. 

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