Not only did Shaimaa Samy Ab D Ellatif leave the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum 3rd Dubai Para Badminton International 2021 with a bronze medal, she also returned home to Egypt with a burning desire.
Ellatif, her nation’s sole representative in the UAE two weeks ago, did well to medal – in the Wheelchair (WH1-WH2) category alongside India’s Girishkumar Jayanthilal Sharma – at the competition where she made her international debut in 2018.
And she now wants to chase more international glory for one reason more than anything – to inspire women in her country to pick up Para badminton.
“I want to compete in more championships, take experience and watch more champions in my classification,” she told Gulf Today.
“This will help me share my story and experience and inspire more female players back home. And one day we can dream of a gold medal at major events.”
The 40-year-old started playing Para badminton only three years ago but is now in the top 20 of the WH1 women’s singles world ranking. A commendable achievement considering she has no wheelchair partner at her club Alzahoor in Cairo, where she trains with able-bodied players.
“Para badminton is a new sport in Egypt, in fact in Africa,” she said.
“In Egypt we have 10 clubs and around 70-80 disabled players in different classifications. There are many Para badminton players but no wheelchair shuttlers at my club. So, I don’t have a fixed doubles partner and have to look for a new one every time.”
Returning to competition after a COVID-19-enforced break of more than a year gave Ellatif a major boost, especially with the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games on the horizon.
“Like everyone, I’m excited to play in the first competition after the pandemic (struck),” she said.
“It’s a good experience and preparation en route to Tokyo. My main aim is to qualify for Tokyo, so I’ll try my best in the last qualifying event (Spanish Para Badminton International 2021 in May) as well.
“Paralympics will be a dream-come-true moment,” added Ellatif, whose ultimate goal is to win a medal at Paris 2024.
Ellatif was earlier this month unveiled as one of the global ambassadors of the ‘i am badminton’ integrity campaign for Arab Badminton Federation.