Chan Ho Yuen Daniel is widely recognised as one of the most outstanding talents in men’s singles WH2 (Wheelchair) for Hong Kong China.
Despite his successes, the moment the world No.2 discovered badminton was to be included on the programme for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games still ranks as one of his most memorable. Chan, who began his sporting career in 2009, says the news signalled a huge shift in gears and goals in his life.
“I still remember in 2014. Finally BWF and the International Paralympic Committee made the announcement I had been waiting for!” he exclaimed.
“In the first five years, I was chasing and pursuing a career that wasn’t really there until the formal announcement was made. I had something to shoot for and a very clear target to chase in the coming years. Now my dreams are coming true.
“When I found out I was getting my ticket to Tokyo, I shouted in celebration and thought: ‘Everything I’ve worked for and deserved is happening’.”
Ahead of badminton’s Paralympic Games debut, Chan admitted he is “excited and stressed”.
Having not been able to compete internationally for the past 17 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 36-year-old is somewhat apprehensive.
“I feel ready but deep down I’m a little concerned because I haven’t competed. It will feel very strange to see Kim Jungjun, Martin Rooke or the Chinese players sitting on the other side of the net. But let’s see.”
And it’s not just four-time world champion Kim from Korea that Chan sees as his toughest opposition.
“Kim has been playing really well, but there are some young contenders to worry about too. They have been keeping up their training so they are all in really good condition.”
The keen Manchester United fan, who regards himself an ambitious player, is gunning for gold nevertheless.
“Gold is the only target. But being a professional, I will start with the first match and keep working hard to be in the final,” he said.
Para badminton has long held a special place in Chan’s heart since a car accident changed his life.
“Para badminton helped me rebuild my life because when I was in hospital after my accident, I felt like I had lost everything. I lost my left leg. I lost my confidence too,” he recalled.
“When I won my first Para badminton medal, it was just a small gain. My confidence grew from that. I was being more physical. I knew I still had value and that’s what Para badminton has given me.”
Chan will be back in action from September 1- 5 at the Yoyogi National Stadium, where he is drawn in Group C against Thomas Jakobs from France and Daiki Kajiwara from Japan.