Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games bronze medallist Krishna Nagar from India was the surprise winner with two gold medals as the 2nd Fazza-Dubai Para Badminton International Championships concluded at the Shabab Al Ahli Club here on Sunday.
A day after upsetting the World no. 1 Jack Shepherd in the men’s singles SS6 semi-finals, Nagar pulled off the second upset in as many days when he defeated England’s world no. 2 Krysten Coombs 20-22, 25-23, 21-12 in the most exciting final of the day, that went over an hour.
“Yes, this is the biggest win of my career,” an elated Nagar told Asian Paralympic Committee (APC), before he went on to make it two-for-two, winning the mixed doubles title along with Raja Magotra.
“This has been also the best tournament for me. This is big the motivation in this important year and going ahead in the road to Tokyo 2020,” said the left-handed player, who started playing the sport only in 2018 and won his first medal at the Thailand International in July last year.
Overall, Team India had a good run at the event finishing with nine medals including four golds on Sunday. Among others, World no. 1 Pramod Bhagat and Parul Parmer took the gold in SL3 men’s and women’s singles. However, Asian Para Games winner Tarun Tarun went down to French world no. 1 Lucas Mazur in straight games 13-21, 17-21 in men’s singles SL4 final.
China on top
But it was the badminton powerhouse China, who emerged as the best team, winning 19 medals including six gold medals in the second largest-ever field in the history of Para Badminton. As many as 270 players from 37 nations took part at the event.
Badminton World Federation (BWF) Para Badminton vice president Paul Kurzo said that he was surprised to see such big number of entries at the event. “I am happy to see how Para Badminton was growing. And with its debut in Paralympics, the sport will reach a new level.
“I really want to appreciate and thank the local organizing committee for conducting everything so well. The scheduling of matches was a headache with so many players here, but they pulled it off well. We always like coming to Dubai,” he said at the closing.
Asian Paralympic Committee President and Dubai Club for People of Determination Executive Director Majid Rashed thanked the BWF for giving the opportunity to host the event. “We hope to succeed together with the BWF and deliver a great championship to everyone. We hope everyone here as athletes, coaches and officials achieved a fruitful outcome of being in the United Arab Emirates. In the year of tolerance, we want to send message to everyone that sports is about peace, tolerance and getting together. Congratulations to all the winners here and good luck next time to the ones who missed out,” Mr. Rashed said.
Zimao wins two gold
At the Turkish International, the first tournament in the race to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Qualification points, China had signed off with seven gold from their 14 medals. Promising Qu Zimao had picked up three gold there. On Sunday at the Fazza meet, it was once again Zimao who finished with two gold medals in men’s singles WH1 and mixed doubles WH1-WH2 along with Liu Yutong.
Zimao was in fact lucky to survive a first game scare against Choi Jung Man of Korea in men’s singles WH1 final. Trailing 7-18, Choi took 11 points in a row playing long rallies to make it 18-all, but fell short in the end. He eventually lost 19-21, 21-14 after fighting for 35 minutes. “It was an exciting match. I am happy I won,” said Zimao heaving a sigh of relief.
“I want to win every match in the race to World Championships and Tokyo 2020,” he added.
Yutong also made it twin gold when she outplayed compatriot Li Hongyan 21-5, 21-10 in the WH2 gold medal match. Fifth seed Zhang Jing started the gold rush for the East Asian nation beating fellow Chinese Yin Menglu 21-13, 21-13 in the women’s singles WH1, before Yang Qiuxia needed just 26 minutes to beat Japanese top seed Ayako Suzuki in straight games 21-18, 21-13 in SU5 title clash.
The result of the women’s singles SL4 final was a repeat of the 2017 World Championship and Asian Para Games 2018 finals, with Chinese Cheng Hefang succeeding once again over Indonesia’s Leani Ratri Oktila 21-15, 21-15. Ratri Oktila was “sad” to not making it three golds, and said her opponent had “better strokes” with the drop shots being her lethal weapon.
Indonesia doubles pairs shine
Known for their unique style of play, the Indonesian doubles players continued their good run of form to win four out of the five gold they clinched on the day. Top seeds Hary Susanto and Leani Ratri Oktila were the first to open their account with a 21-19, 21-15 win over France’s Lucas Mazur and Faustine Noel.
In contrast, Ratri Oktila and her partner Khalimatus Sadiyah Sukohandoko had to battle past a strong challenge from China’s second seed Cheng Hefang and Ma Huihui to win the women’s doubles SL3-SL4 final by 8-21, 21-12, 21-16 scoreline.
Indonesia 2018 winner Dheva Anrimusthi also picked up two gold medals, with his 21-19, 18-21, 21-16 win over lone Malaysian finalist Liek Hou Cheah bringing the only singles medal in the Indonesian team. He also combined with Suryo Nugroho to take the men’s doubles SU5 title, while top seeds Dwiyoko Dwiyoko and Fredy Setiawan lived up to their billing and won men’s doubles SL3-SU5 title.
Among other top names, Korean top seed Kim Jungjun had to rallied back from a game down to defeat Chan Ho Yeun in a three-game thriller 15-21, 21-13, 21-19. For Japan, their women’s doubles WH 1-WH 2 top pair Sarina Satomi and Yuma Yamazaki clinched the lone gold winning 21-15, 21-13 over Xu Tingting and Zhang Jing.
The road to Tokyo 2020 Paralympics continues, with the next stop for the players going to be Uganda from April 22-28, 2019.