The women’s wheelchair events feature home favourites Yuma Yamazaki, Sarina Satomi and Rie Ogura of Japan.
In the lead-up to Tokyo, most players were only able to take part in one of the two tournaments this year held in the United Arab Emirates and Spain.
Satomi comes to the Paralympics as the WH1 singles world No.1 while a close second is Sujirat Pookham of Thailand, fresh from her win at the Spanish Para Badminton International 2021, the last tournament before players made their way to Tokyo.
Satomi will have to contend with Yin Meng Lu and Kang Jung Kum in Group A, while Pookham has Zhang Jin, Cynthia Mathez and Nina Gorodetsky in Group C. Switzerland’s Karin Suter-Erath is with two Germans in Group B: Valeska Knoblauch and Elke Rongen.
In the WH2 category, China leads in the top two spots with Liu Yu Tong and Xu Ting Ting. In third place is Yuma Yamazaki, followed by Turkey’s Emine Seckin and Thailand’s Amnouy Wetwithan.
Liu,17, is the youngest women’s wheelchair player here and a two-time WH2 singles world champion.
While Liu dominates the singles, she and WH1-WH2 partner Yin Meng Lu fell to Satomi and Yamazaki in the doubles in their last tournament together in 2019 at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium.
After her win against Liu and Yin, Yamazaki said: “This is an important win for us which will lead us into the Paralympics in this same venue next year (2020).”
It has been almost two years since then and when they do cross paths on court, it will be a case of Liu and Yin’s speed against the famous “rotation” style play of Satomi and Yamazaki.
Another threat to the Japanese duo’s golden Paralympic dream is the pair of Pookham and Wetwithan, who took the doubles crown in Spain just a few months ago.
All three top pairs however, should keep a keen eye on Suter-Erath and Cynthia Mathez as they have been known to come from behind to triumph against some of the best.