According to David Toupe, Para badminton’s inclusion into the Paralympic family for Tokyo 2020 changes a lot of things for the Frenchman: “Recognition, resources, development… How to say? You go from a Michelin to a Formula 1 engine. “There’s nothing better.”
While the world champion (2013) in men’s singles Wheelchair (WH1) won’t be in a Formula 1 car for the Paralympics, he’s pretty close to faster wheels.
The 44-year-old is heading to the Japanese capital after a lengthy but remarkable project with aerospace pioneer, Airbus. The aircraft manufacturer designed a specially crafted wheelchair for the Para badminton player to make Toupe more efficient on the badminton court.
“It’s lighter, it fits better and responsive to my needs,” said Toupe in a special video message for Airbus.
“It’s been designed for me, my sport, my body. In terms of training, it’s as if I have gained five years of training,” he remarked.
Around 40 Airbus engineers from fields such as mechanics, propulsion and ergonomics, were involved in the two-year design project working in locations from Spain to France, to make a faster, lighter and more adapted wheelchair.
Christophe Debard from Airbus Protospace Toulouse who contributed to the two-year project said:
“Airbus is fortunate enough to have a work environment with highly-skilled employees who know how to make light and high performance aircrafts. Some are mechanical engineers, while some use precision calculations. The idea was to harness all these skills to provide a light and advanced wheelchair for David. Airbus has software and technology that allows us to meet a challenge outside aerospace and in the sphere of elite sport.”
Already a European and world champion, Toupe told French newspaper, Ledepeche he’s “In a hurry to start competition,” at Tokyo 2020.
Toupe won’t have to wait much longer. Para badminton runs at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games from 1-5 September.
Toupe faces China’s Qui Zi Mo and Osamu Nagashima from Japan in Group C in men’s singles WH1 and is drawn in Group B alongside doubles partner Thomas Jakobs (WH1-WH2) against Jakarin Homhual/Dumnern Junthong (THA) and formidable pairing Lee Dong Seop/Kim Jung Jun from Korea.