For Sharon Jones-Barnes, badminton has been her “therapy” to heal from a stroke, she suffered, during a lower leg amputation procedure, that left her paralysed from the neck down. Competing on the international circuit since 2011, she faced challenges along the way before discovering the sport.
“I was in a specialised hospital for spinal injuries in England for two years,” said Jones-Barnes following her second WH2 women’s singles Group A match against Ilaria Renggli. She lost 21-6 21-7.
“I couldn’t move anything at first. After a lot of work, I started gaining more movement in my body and arms. It was then the doctors and nurses suggested I keep active. I was more of a football player when I was younger but I took up badminton and absolutely loved it. It has sparked so much joy in my life and I love playing.”
And her love of badminton extends beyond competing – she also coaches able-bodied children.
“As part of the Black Arrows Badminton Club, I coach children from five to 11 years old, and also all the way up to university level,” she said.
“I teach all over London, I love coaching. I want to help people and spread the happiness playing badminton brings. The principles and tactics are the same, able-bodied or not. It’s about positioning yourself right to retrieve the shuttle or set up a smash, being patient, and understanding what your opponent is doing so you can counter that. My big dream is to coach a player to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. That would be huge.”
Still Going Strong
A recreational player in Japan, an unfortunate car accident meant Hiroto Iizuka (WH1) would continue playing his favourite sport professionally.
“I just went out there to enjoy myself. And I did, it was fun,” he said following his 21-3 21-12 Group B loss to world champion Thomas Wandschneider. “Thomas is a great player and I have much to learn from him.
“It’s true I have a great team with me. My friends like Keita Nishimura, Hiroshi Nishiyama and Daiki Kajiwara (WH2) are good teammates. The team spirit is superb and they always help me with tips and feedback. I’m lucky to have them.”