Gearing up to the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships 2015 in Stoke Mandeville, England, Badminton Europe had the opportunity to speak with BWF Vice President – Para-Badminton, Paul Kurzo (standing, third from left) before the event starts next week.
(Paul Kurzo - PK, Badminton Europe – BE)
BE: Paul, thank you for taking time to speak with us. Before we proceed any further, congratulations on the inclusion of para-badminton into the Paralympic Games. Well done to your team and we are excited to see and follow the development of para-badminton these coming years.
PK: Thank you. Yes, we are indeed extremely happy with the success of the inclusion of para-badminton into the Paralympic Games. This means that we will be very busy heading up to Tokyo 2020. I would also like to thank the team working behind the application and the cooperation the BWF gets from its five Continental Confederations.
BE: The 2015 PBWC is finally starting, how do you feel after such a long preparation period with the respective parties?
PK: In the past half year many people from Badminton England, the BWF Office and the BWF Para-Badminton Commission were involved in organizing the World Championships. They worked very well and close together. They had especially in the last two month a very stressful job with the registration of players, changes and cancellations, sending invoices to the countries, visa letters, etc. However, it helps a lot as the organizing committee is experienced and they know the different aspects in organizing an international tournament, having organized the England Para-Badminton International in Loughborough last year. Until now, all the people involved have done a great job and I would like to thank them for their hard work. I am sure that the World Championships will be a great event and we are all looking forward to it.
BE: What can the para-badminton fans expect in this year´s World Championships in Stoke Mandeville?
PK: Exciting, enthusiastic and interesting matches from players from five continents. These players compete in different Sport Classes where some of them have leg and arm limitations, genetic defects, paraplegic etc.
BE: How different is this year´s World Championships as compared to the previous editions?
PK: The World Championships this year will be the first ever World Championships as a Paralympic sport. This is a new chapter and it means a lot to the para-badminton family, being included in the programme and possibly becoming a Paralympian. The level of play has also increased and that the whole set up has been more professional. Organizers, players, coaches, support staff and volunteers are improving in their respective fields, making it the para-badminton event of the year.
BE: As para-badminton will be making its maiden medal appearance in the Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020, what are the initial plans that the BWF are implementing?
PK: We will try to showcase all the categories we have in badminton/para-badminton (Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles). Unfortunately we don't know how many athletes will qualify for the Paralympics yet. This would be known in the best case at the end of 2016 or early 2017. We still do not know which Sport Classes will be played in Tokyo and a lot of analysis and discussions need to be done between the BWF and the International Paralympic Committee. However, we know for sure that we must have a fifty-fifty ratio of female and male athletes in Tokyo.
BE: Do you have any message to any specific parties prior to the World Championships?
PK: I hope that para-badminton will gain more exposure and popularity along the years with more international tournaments organized and we can find more players around the World to take up para-badminton.
BE: Thank you again for your time, Paul and hope to see you in Stoke Mandeville.
PK: You are welcome and hope to meet the Badminton Europe team in Stoke Mandeville.
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To know more about the event, click here.
Interview by Tania Teoh, Photo by BWF