Danish badminton players have often been a force at the Olympics but when it comes to Para badminton, Cathrine Rosengren is the lone flag bearer.
“I only started playing Para badminton when I found out it was going to be included at the Paralympics. I knew I could make my dream of a medal come true,” said Rosengren who, until about four years ago, competed with able-bodied peers.
Currently third in the Race to Tokyo rankings behind China’s Yang Qiuxia and Japan’s Ayako Suzuki, Rosengren seems to always be in a three-way battle with the other two women’s singles Standing Upper (SU5) doyennes.
Now, she is looking to take them on at the Spanish Para Badminton International 2021 which starts today in Cartagena.
“I haven’t played a tournament since 2019 and I’ve really missed it. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with motivation but now it’s great to know I can test all the things I’ve been working on in practice.”
Rosengren was not happy about training in isolation at home.
“I bought a spin bike. I practiced footwork in the garden. My neighbours let me use their weight training equipment. I tried running but it’s not for me. My father had to cycle by my side just to motivate me. Exercise is not fun when done alone.”
The last few months have brought about other changes as she moved to Copenhagen on her own, and juggles training sessions with studying biochemistry at the university.
“It’s a relevant course for these times, to do research and find different medicines for diseases.”
However, after more than a year without competition and always being the only Danish participant, Rosengren has missed the social side of being at tournaments.
“I went from seeing my (Para badminton) friends once or twice a month to not seeing them for more than a year, which was hard and strange. Video calls are not the same.”
While Spain may be a reunion, the tournament also offers one last chance to earn qualifying points before the Paralympics in September.
Rosengren’s current position almost definitely assures her a Tokyo ticket but she has mixed feelings.
“I just want to have a great experience but I’m afraid I might play badly, and I’ll be so disappointed with myself. I’m going to try and forget it’s the Paralympics and just focus on playing well.”
She also has plans to soak up as much of the atmosphere as possible.
“Socially, our movements may be restricted but I want to watch the Danish athletics and equestrian teams. And I need to buy cup noodles. I always buy them when I’m in Japan.”