Sibling inspiration has always been a key motivator for Mauritian shuttler Georges Julien Paul. His older brother, Christopher Paul, was his role model when he became a professional badminton player. Long before Georges Julien competed for Mauritius at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, his brother was his biggest fan and motivator.
“My brother was always encouraging me to go for my dreams. I have qualified for the Olympics and it’s thanks to my brother, my family and friends, and even my teachers at university who have all gotten behind my career,” smiled Paul.
With the focus on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games next week, Paul has made the most of the tournament season by competing in the Spain Masters 2021 in May. Notably it was a 22-hour journey from the island of Mauritius to the European town of Huelva that Paul had to contend with first.
Despite not making it out of the first round at the Spain Masters, he struck up a friendship with opponent Ygor Coelho from Brazil.
The All African Individual champion said post match: “I don’t usually get to play on the European circuit often and also compete at this level, so it’s great to meet other players and Ygor is so friendly and fun to talk to.”
The world no.58 will have his friend and foe, Ygor Coelho, for company in Group I, along with Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama at the Olympic Games.
Ahead of Tokyo 2020, the Mauritian says he has feelings of “joy, impatience and excitement”.
Unable to train with players of his level in Mauritius, Paul, 25, recently based himself in Denmark to train with fellow Olympians ahead of Tokyo. He’s picked up a few more friendships en route to Japan’s capital city.
A direct beneficiary of the BWF Player Development Grant, the Mauritian shuttler has been able to successfully use the funds distributed via Africa’s Continental Confederation as part of BWF’s commitment to create and fund potential Olympians, such as Paul.
Sparring with others headed to Tokyo, like Aram Mahmoud from the Refugee Olympic Team, Luka Wraber, Felix Burestedt and Beiwen Zhang has made Paul’s journey to the Olympic Games that much more remarkable.
“It’s been good to train with other Olympians. It’s been an advantage for me as a way to measure my level. I’ve seen a big improvement in the past six weeks,” said the 25-year-old.
The self-motivator is the sole representative for Mauritius in badminton at the Olympic Games and is enjoying the training camp in Denmark.
“My training is going well. For the past few weeks we’ve had rigorous men’s singles matches with high intensity sessions as part of our training. There’s about eight of us in the camp. I really had to get used to the intensity too because I don’t have this level in Mauritius.
“It’s a happy atmosphere. I am actually good at making friends and everyone here is so friendly. We have all our meals together. There’s a real team spirit. We hang out every day to watch movies or play chess. We are always entertaining ourselves.”
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games begin on 23 July. Find out how you can watch it here.