In August 1995, Rose-Mary Haller welcomed her son Tim Haller into the world. Tim was born eight weeks premature, weighing a mere 1153 grams, in a town called Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart, Germany.
“At first the doctors did not know if Tim would survive but then after three weeks, they said he would be fine. That he’s a fighter,” said Rose-Mary.
While to the people around him he seemed like any other child, as he grew up, Tim’s disabilities became apparent. According to Rose-Mary, Tim developed very slowly, taking longer to grow in size and strength, and he was always smaller than children his age.
“My disability is on the right side of my body affecting my leg and arm. I also have severe inner ear hearing loss on both sides,” explained Tim, whose development delay also meant having to overcome a learning disability.
Today, at the age of 24, Tim is 12th in the BWF World Rankings and 8th in the Race to Tokyo qualification for the men’s singles Standing Lower (SL4) category for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Tim started playing badminton at 12. As a child, he would tag along with his mother who regularly played at the Buxtehuder SV (BSV) badminton club. “I watched her and decided I wanted to play this game, too,” said Tim, who joined the children’s training group at Buxtehuder. He has not looked back since.
“I now train about seven to 10 hours a week,” he said. Apart from his own training, Tim is a coach for the youth performance group at BSV – the same group that he used to be a part of. At BSV, Tim is considered a top player and a role model for the young people at the club.
“Badminton seems the best sport for Tim as he fights for himself. In other (team) sports, he used to get pushed around,” explained Rose-Mary.
“Badminton is everything in the world to me,” said Tim.
After graduating high school, Tim completed an apprenticeship course and now works as a vehicle maintenance technician for a company that specialises in paint and body works for luxury motor vehicles. Flexible working hours allow Tim to juggle his time between his job and badminton.
Since joining the German Para Badminton team in 2011, Tim attends coaching sessions at the Olympic Training Centre in Hamburg which is one of three badminton bases in Germany. He travels by train twice a week from Buxtehuder, the town he calls home, to Hamburg and back. “Sometimes I get really tired,” said Tim.
Fatigue, however, will not get in the way of his goal – a Paralympic medal at Tokyo 2020. With the inclusion of Para badminton in the Paralympics, competition is increasing and the badminton world is beginning to see a difference in the way the athletes are approaching the game.
“Only the top eight players can qualify and I am currently eighth. I hope to move higher or at least remain as number eight. Then maybe by playing more tournaments to get more points and with a little luck, I will make it.”
Tim concedes that while it is a fun sport, the skill level and concentration that badminton now demands is not easy for him. “What I think is really important is to respect the disability and ability of your opponents,” said Tim.
His immediate target is the TOTAL BWF World Para-Badminton Championships 2019 in neighbouring Basel, Switzerland in August when he will aim to snare big ranking points.
We wish Tim the best of luck.
* This article was originally published for Tageblatt Online and re-published with the permission of the authors Tim Scholz, Alexander Schulz, Lukas Reineke, and Valerie Schmidt