Para badminton players at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are set to make history as the first participants in their sport at the Paralympics. For senior players like Krysten Coombs, this carries even greater significance, for it has been a long wait to make it to the sport’s biggest stage.
“It’s been a long, long time, 14 years for me actually,” says the 30-year-old SH6 player from Great Britain. “I was at the first tournament back in 2008 that had SH6. So yeah, it’s been a been a long-awaited journey to finally get to the Paralympics so it’s a dream come true and I can’t wait to get started.”
Interestingly, Coombs in in the same group as compatriot and world champion Jack Shephard. Having won their last three matches – including the final of the Spanish Para Badminton International in May, Coombs is heading into competition at Tokyo 2020 with great confidence.
“I’ve been on a great run. Everything in preparation for these Games has been perfect. I won the Spanish, the last qualifying tournament, so to beat Jack then and, you know, being on a roll, I can’t hope for anything better than this. This whole qualifying year I didn’t lose to him, so it’s been a great qualifying year and then to build up to this Games is amazing.
“I can’t wait, just can’t wait to get going. We’ve been here for a few days now. It’s just building up and up now with obviously seeing and other events start. We just want to get going, I definitely want to get going, so yeah, I just can’t wait.”
‘A Great Opportunity’
Among the other senior players who have waited for Para badminton’s debut at the Paralympics is David Toupe, 44-year-old WH1 player from France.
“It has been a long wait. Now we are in the Paralympics and in a badminton country, so it’s the best opportunity for our sport. We are sure we have a sport that will be discovered by a lot of disabled players who don’t know Para badminton.
“This is the best for every athlete. To me the entrance into the Paralympic family is amazing.”