Until she played the Spanish Para Badminton International in May 2021, Cathrine Rosengren hadn’t had the taste of international competition for 17 months.
The disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic caused to the sporting circuit affected Para badminton too. That, combined with an injury that Rosengren suffered at the end of 2019, meant a long layoff for the Dane from competitive badminton, which wasn’t ideal for preparations for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
However, Rosengren says she wasn’t bogged down, and kept up her morale by being in touch with fellow-Dane and world No.12 Mia Blichfeldt, one of her childhood friends.
“I’m good friends with Mia Blichfeldt,” said Rosengren, world No.3 in women’s singles SU5. “I just tried to talk with her a lot, and see what she did and how she prepared for the Olympics. I’ve known her since I was like nine or 10 years old. We used to play in the same club and trained together and stuff like that and now we live like 500 metres from each other so she’s a very close friend of mine. I used to spar with her when I was younger, but now she’s too good!
“I’m lucky that most of my friends are all athletes in some way or used to be athletes so they know how much it means to me to go there (Paralympics), which helped me a lot when there’s been some social things that I have to say no to or something like that.”
The long break away from competitive badminton, she says, helped her recover from her knee injury and also enrol at university.
“I just had to relax and accept that maybe I won’t be able to train as much on court as I’m used to. I also had an injury at the end of 2019 so I wasn’t really ready to play tournaments in the beginning of the 2020. So I think that helped me a lot, that I could focus on getting my knee back to normal and it definitely also helped me that I started university so I could focus on something else. It’s been a long year but then again, I think it was good for me to have a break.
“I tried to do a lot of bike intervals, and just to focus on everything I could do off court. I really like sport in general. I really like to do spin classes and bike rides and stuff like that. I like watching sports in general, lots of different kinds of sports. Last summer I also started university, where I study biochemistry. I really like chemistry and biology and stuff like that with the body.”
The break appears to have done a world of good for Rosengren, for she won the first tournament on her return – the Spanish Para Badminton International – without dropping a game.
She also competed alongside able-bodied players at the Denmark Masters, where she won a qualifying round match.
Talking of the particular challenges she faces as an SU5 player, Rosengren says: “For me, my problem is balance sometimes and some rotations. I have a nervous damage in my left arm. Actually, I didn’t really notice that it was a disability, until I was asked about Para badminton in 2016. I really never thought of it as a disability, and I still don’t. There’s nothing that I can’t do. But, now that I know it, I can definitely feel like sometimes there are some problems with some rotations and especially in the back. And just some balance and stuff like that and I can imagine that the same problems some of the other girls also have.”
The Paralympics have been a dream for everyone on the circuit, and now the event is just a few days away.
“I was really happy to see that my name was announced that I got qualified. It was the only reason why I started playing Para badminton back in 2016, it was because her badminton got under the Paralympic programme. It was my big goal to qualify, and I was really happy to see my name on the list. I think it’s very big. It’s going to be the biggest experience I’ve had, so I’m very excited and I know my family and my friends are very excited.”