4 Nations Para: Paris Love Story Inspiring Rogerio and Edwarda

Brazil’s reigning Para Pan Am champion Rogerio Junior Xavier De Oliveira is enjoying his ascension in SL4 men’s singles SL4. In the last 15 months, he has risen from 31st in the BWF Para Badminton World Rankings to a current high of sixth.

But perhaps his secret to success is best explained in the detail of his new mixed doubles partnership, which incidentally commenced around the same time as this golden run.

Edwarda De Oliveira Dias is a two-time Paralympic bronze medallist in sitting volleyball (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020) as well as 2022 world champion.

For all her highs with the national team though, a switch to Para badminton and a new pathway to Paris 2024 proved a simple equation.

Chase a new dream and spend more time with her love Rogerio.

“We met at Brazil’s Paralympic Training Centre in Sao Paulo,” beamed a proud Rogerio. “We have been together for five years and now we are playing mixed doubles together.”

“I came from a different sport. I played sitting volleyball,” added Edwarda. “I’m a beginner in Para badminton (from mid-2022) but I’m enjoying it very much and hope to improve and build upon my achievements.

“I won everything I could in sitting volleyball. It’s now a big challenge for me though. I’m on my own, not in a team environment and making all the decisions. So, it’s all on me.

“But I have (Rogerio) and he gives me all the support I need and want, and he’s with me every day.”

Rogerio and Edwarda playing mixed doubles at the Spanish Para Badminton International earlier this year.

Having a Paralympic medallist in Edwarda by his side at training and tournaments has also helped Rogerio close in on his own Para badminton goals.

“When I met Edwarda, she was already a Paralympic medallist. I had a great admiration for her as I want to be a Paralympic medallist as well. Being with her has given me more energy to achieve this,” he said.

“Edwarda is a natural born leader. In sitting volleyball (as vice captain), she had great respect for her teammates and her teammates had great respect for her. And I feel the same while playing with her.

“One of my most memorable sporting moments was during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics watching Edwarda’s bronze medal match in sitting volleyball. She was motivating all the players and telling everyone victory was still possible.

“So, I’ve now brought this spirit to my heart, and it gives me so much joy. This is why I’m inspired to see if it’s possible to qualify for the Paralympics and win a medal, too.”

In mixed doubles, they’ve established themselves just inside the world’s top 12 – eager to get on that plane together for Paris. Despite narrowly missing out on a mixed doubles berth here in Sheffield, they have a clear plan ahead and know what they need to do.

“We are training a lot,” said Rogerio. “Up to six to eight hours a day. We’re very thankful to the support from the Brazilian Badminton Confederation. We’re aiming high, and always aiming for more medals.”

“It would be a dream come true if we could both qualify,” added Edwarda.

Both had an enjoyable week in Sheffield in their respective SL4 singles classes, and now have their sights set on the Para Pan Am Games 2023 in November, where Rogerio in particular, is hoping to go one better than his singles silver in 2019.

“This week we played against the top singles players here in Sheffield. I played against Tarun Tarun who is one of the best in SL4. I had a good match against him, and it was a great learning experience,” he said.

“The aim is now to win both gold medals at the Para Pan Am Games 2023 in Santiago to get enough points to qualify for Paris and I hope we can both do it.”

We wish you all the best, Rogerio and Edwarda! 😍

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