Corrie Robinson is unique – he is the only player hailing from New Zealand on the international Para badminton circuit.
The Standing Lower (SL4) men’s singles shuttler is now on a quest to make his nation proud by qualifying for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games next year, despite learning about the sport just five years ago courtesy of a Danish coach.
Up until then, Robinson had only played against able-bodied competitors.
Having his left leg amputated below the knee when he was just a year old after being born with a club foot did not stop Robinson from starting young in rural Waikato – he has been playing badminton from the age of nine with his mother at his local community hall.
If he makes it to Japan, Robinson will be the sole amputee in his class. And it will be his third visit to the Land of the Rising Sun; the 37-year-old most recently competed at the HULIC DAIHATSU Japan Para Badminton International 2019 – the Tokyo 2020 test event.
Robinson, who calls Japanese people “so respectful, polite and happy to help”, is realistic about his chances of medalling.
“What I’m really aiming for is to become the best possible player I can, and the rest will take care of itself,” Robinson, who featured at the TOTAL BWF Para Badminton World Championships 2019 in Basel, told Paralympics New Zealand.
Having initially competed in Australia, Robinson also travelled to Japan in 2017 for his first international competition. It proved an eye opener for the then 34-year-old.
“I noticed a huge difference from able-bodied to Para athlete competitions, it was more international, and their styles were a lot different to New Zealand,” the multiple Oceanian champion told Asia New Zealand Foundation.
“Strong nations like China, Japan, Thailand and India, each area has a slightly different playing style.”
Robinson was travelling with the Australian team when he finally connected with Paralympics New Zealand last year. It resulted in him and his coach Ken Yew getting financial support as well as access to a sports psychologist, hydration, nutritionist and strength and conditioning specialists.
Though his training programme has been derailed by a global pandemic, with the team he has around him, Tokyo 2020 remains an achievable goal for the Kiwi.
So how has the nurse, who underwent a kidney transplant at 23, kept himself busy at home in Hamilton during the COVID-19-enforced lockdown?
“Coming from a farm, you can always find something to do.”