It’s not uncommon to witness Paralympians compete in a variety of sports, but it’s quite a unique feat to do it in different seasons.
Cynthia Mathez of Switzerland achieved just that when she featured at both the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games over six months, reserving a place for herself in history. It marked, in her own words, an “extraordinary” year, which included a runner-up finish at the Para Badminton World Championships 2022.
“I received a phone call in November last year from the Swiss Paralympic Committee asking me if I wanted to be on the reserve list for Beijing 2022,” recalled the 2018 European champion about her selection for the Winter Paralympics.
Mathez had made her Paralympic debut in wheelchair badminton at Tokyo 2020, competing in both women’s singles and doubles, before embarking on a trip to China to represent Switzerland in curling and joining a long line of Paralympians who have done the double.
“I had played wheelchair curling with friends for fun, but this was different. I also competed at small curling tournaments in Switzerland last year but didn’t know where my level was internationally, so that was very stressful,” admitted the 37-year-old.
“I knew the rules and how to play but did a bit of a crash course on curling strategy – it’s complex. Competing at the Summer Games really helped me prepare for Beijing, I knew what to expect. Being in the Athletes Village again with the team was amazing. The whole thing was an unbelievable experience and I’m so glad I did it.”
Despite finishing last in the medal standings, Mathez enjoyed “every moment of her journey”. And in Tokyo last month was where Mathez felt her “real goals were achieved” after being rewarded with a silver medal at the BWF Para Badminton World Championships. She lost the WH1 women’s singles final 21-9 21-10 to Sarina Satomi.
“To end 2022 in second place at the World Championships was extraordinary. I worked hard all year and achieved my goal of getting onto the podium,” said Mathez, who this campaign has five other silver medals and a gold that came in WH1-2 women’s doubles at July’s 4 Nations Para Badminton International in Dublin, Ireland.
“For next season, I want to be on the podium at the European Championships in singles and doubles. The target is to earn as many points as possible to qualify for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.”