The first Paralympic champions in Para Badminton and Para Taekwondo will be crowned at the Tokyo 2020 Games that is set to begin from August 24, 2021.
Host nation Japan, Indonesia, China and India are expected to be among the medal contenders in Para Badminton to be played at the Yoyogi National Stadium.
Both the singles and doubles competition are expected to witness tight contests with the world’s best eager to show their top-level game on its Paralympic debut.
In the men’s standing events, Indonesia will be among the favourites with world and Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games gold medallist Dheva Anrimusthi and Suryo Nugroho, Indonesia 2018 silver medallist, eager to show their skilful game in men’s SU5 event. Incheon 2014 gold medallists Fredy Setiawan (SL4) and Ukun Raekandi (SL3) are others who are expected to make a mark.
However, Malaysian Incheon 2014 champion Cheah Liek Hou has produced excellent results months before the Games with two gold medals in men’s singles SU5. So, he would be eager to continue the momentum.
“I am targeting the gold. And I am working very hard to fulfil my dream. As my opponents are way too younger than me, I have to work more on physical fitness, but I am confident to pull off good result in Tokyo. The recent tournaments in Dubai and Spain have boosted my confident. And I am raring to go for the Games,” said Cheah, who took two gold medals ahead of the Games in Fazza-Dubai 2021 International and Spain 2021 International.
India’s medal hopes rest on Bhagat, Nagar
India will have their medal hopes resting on world no. 1 and multiple-time world champion Pramod Bhagat (SL3) and Tarun Dhillon (SL4), both Indonesia 2018 gold medallists, and second ranked SH6 shuttler Krishna Nagar, Basel 2019 Worlds bronze medallist.
The wheelchair events are expected to be ruled by Koreans with their star para shuttler Kim Jungjun, Basel 2019 Worlds and Indonesia 2018 winner, strong favourite for men’s singles WH2 title. But watch out for Chan Ho Yuen from Hong Kong who will be expected to give a tough challenge to Jungjun reviving their old rivalry.
China’s promising star Qu Zimo, world champion in the men’s singles WH1 and doubles WH1-2, will be the title favourite in men’s WH1 event.
China women to dominate
The women’s competition is expected to be dominated by the Chinese with Liu Yutong, the multiple-time world champion, Xu Tingting and Li Hongyan in their ranks. Both the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games winners will be the favourites in the wheelchair events.
Others in the Chinese team who are strong gold medal contenders are Yang Qiuxia (SU5) and Cheng Hefang (SL4), both Worlds and Asian Para Games medallists.
However, with the presence of world no. 1 Leani Ratri Oktila, multiple-time world and Asian Para Games champion, the road will not be easy. The Yoyogi National Stadium is also expected to witness old rivalry between Oktila and Hefang.
The hosts Japan will rest their medal hopes on the women’s singles and doubles events – with World champion and Indonesia 2018 bronze medallist Sarina Satomi (WH1) and Yuma Yamazaki (WH2), Ayako Suzuki (SU5) and Haruka Fujino (SL4) in their line-up.
With so many world champions and highly ranked players Para Badminton is bound to prove one of the highlights of the Games.
Asian nations look to win medals in Para taekwondo
Apart from Para Badminton, Para Taekwondo will be also another attraction as it makes its Paralympic debut in Tokyo. The taekwondo competition will start from September 2, 2021, with several quarter-finals to be played on the first day at the Makuhari Messe Hall.
Asia will have a stronghold in Para Taekwondo with Mongolia’s multiple time world champion Bolor-Erdene Ganbat to display his skills on the opening day.
Mehdi Pourrahnama, the Iranian Hurricane, will be the favourite in the competitive -75 kg division. With four World Championships, six Asian Championships and two IWAS World Games titles, he has been looked simply unbeatable.
In the same category, Kazakhstan’s Nurlan Dombayev, who is a two-time world champion, three-time Asian and two-time European champion, Dombayev, will be keen to add the Paralympic title to his glittering cabinet.
In women’s event, Uzbekistan’s Guljonoy Naimova and Azerbaijan’s Aynur Mammadova are expected to pose a strong challenge in the women’s heavyweight, the K44 over 58kg category.