The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which concluded last Sunday, showcased some of the most memorable Para badminton action seen on an international stage.
Here is a list of the most exciting matches:
Cheah Liek Hou bt Fang Jen Yu 15-21 21-10 21-16
The men’s singles SU5 semifinal clash between Malaysia’s Cheah Liek Hou and Chinese Taipei’s Fang Jen Yu featured high-paced exchanges, with both unleashing their full range of attacking shots. Cheah won the battle, with his greater experience proving pivotal, but Fang showed he’s one to watch in coming months.
Cheng Hefang bt Leani Ratri Oktila 21-19 17-21 21-16
Leani Ratri Oktila was on a three-title hunt, and had already won the women’s doubles the previous day. The Indonesian used her better courtcraft to cruise ahead in the opening game of her SL4 women’s singles final, but Cheng hung on with grim determination. By the third game it was a matter of who could last longer, and Oktila made the mistakes under pressure, giving Cheng the title.
Lucas Mazur bt Suhas Yathiraj 15-21 21-17 21-15
Mazur, having survived a torrid men’s singles SL4 semifinal against India’s Tarun, looked out of the final early on as Yathiraj poured on the pressure. The Indian rode the tide in the second game, but got a trifle carried away with the momentum in his favour, even as Mazur was visibly struggling and had to drag himself between points. The tall Frenchman kept himself in the match, using his steep smashes to nail any shuttle in the air, and somehow willed himself on to complete a dizzying triumph in three tight games.
Krishna Nagar bt Chu Man Kai 21-17 16-21 21-17
Both Krishna Nagar and Chu Man Kai had been in impressive form in their previous matches. While Nagar had won all his matches in straight games, Chu had started his campaign with a stunning demolition job of Krysten Coombs. The Hong Kong China player used clever placements to keep his quick opponent at bay in the second game, but Nagar was able to sustain his physical intensity and variations to wear down his opponent, and clinch a famous gold for India.
Tarun bt Shin Kyung Hwang 21-18 15-21 21-17
Another entertaining battle in men’s singles SL4 was the Group B clash between Tarun Dhillon and Korea’s Shin Kyung Hwan. The left-hander needed all his craft to hold off the quick-moving and hard-hitting Shin, and he staged a fine come-from-behind effort to prevail 21-17 in the third.
Emine Seckin bt Yuma Yamazaki 21-15 13-21 21-16
Yuma Yamazaki was the home favourite in women’s singles Wheelchair WH2, and she had a 9-0 record over Emine Seckin before their Group B encounter. The Turkish player, distraught by her father’s death a few days ago, sought to pay tribute to him with her performance against Yamazaki, and she stunned the Japanese in three hard-fought games.
Daiki Kajiwara bt Kim Jung Jun 21-18 21-19
It was a handing-over of the baton in men’s singles Wheelchair WH2, as Daiki Kajiwara upstaged the two dominant players in the category over the last few years – Chan Ho Yuen in the semifinals and the all-conquering Kim Jung Jun in the final.
World champion and top seed Kim dug into his vast powers, trying every trick to outplay Kajiwara, but the Japanese was up to the task. He stayed in the long rallies and was nearly flawless in precision hits to the lines. The match was over in straight games, but every point had been hard-fought.
Lee Sam Seop bt Lee Dong Seop 19-21 21-7 22-20
The men’s singles Wheelchair WH1 semifinal between Korean veterans Lee Sam Seop and Lee Dong Seop teetered on the edge before the more accomplished Sam Seop edged past in a tense ending. Dong Seop had match point but a close line call went against him, and Sam Seop, despite struggling physically, was able to pull off another one of his memorable wins.
Lucas Mazur/Faustine Noel bt Pramod Bhagat/Palak Kohli 21-9 15-21 21-19
Lucas Mazur and Faustine Noel were in for a surprise against scratch pair Bhagat and Kohli in their opening SL3-SU5 Group B match. The Indians nearly pulled the rug from under the feet of the second seeds, who prevailed in a tight finish.
Krysten Coombs bt Vito Concalves Tavares 12-21 21-10 21-16
The bronze medal playoff in men’s singles SH6 was a fast-paced, attacking encounter. Tavares’ physical prowess stood out all through his campaign, and Coombs did well to counter that with skill. With the bronze medal on offer, there was plenty at stake, and I t was eventually Coombs who came through, 21-16 in the third.