Martin Rooke with Coach Richard Morris at the Europeans a year ago (credit Badminton Photo)

One chance for three players in WH2

12/29/2019 10:04 AM | |  Bobby Griffin (BEC)

In terms of Paralympic success next year, there is nothing guaranteed for Europe in the WH2 class. Three players still compete for remaining slots and may need some luck to get there

The difficulty for singles players aiming for Tokyo, and we can use WH2 as a great example of this, is that the priority for the 2020 Paralympic Games badminton event is doubles. 

The reason for this is largely down to the limited bed-space next year where 90 players make up the entire tournament that caters for fourteen events. 

Where a doubles pair made up of two different classes, WH1-2 men’s doubles for instance, needs a player from class one and a player from class two, so two singles can players qualify for The Games via a doubles ranking. 

Furthermore the first six places in singles are given to the top six doubles pairs, leaving one to three places which can be achieved via the singles ranking list. 

Naturally there are many pros and cons to this situation. Sadly for European WH2 players, none are ranked in the world top three in singles, and neither Martin Rooke, England, Amir Levi, Israel or Emine Seckin, Turkey, have current doubles partners from their own country.

‘It would be a relief!’

Highest ranked for Europe in the wheelchair class two is Martin Rooke, the 46 year old currently sits at number five in the Road to Tokyo men’s singles list. The former wheelchair basketball player spoke to us about why he competes in badminton and what this year means to him

- I love that badminton is such a fast and physical sport. I enjoy working hard and training is the most important aspect for me, there are no nerves, I can just train all day with my teammates. Competitions are tough. A lot of waiting around to play one game in a day and at this stage in Paralympic qualification it can become very nerve wracking, Rooke said

- I don’t think too much about all the details of ranking points. It would be a relief to get to the Paralympics! We’ve put so much hard work into these past two years and more. So yes, a relief would be the first feeling and then, well, it would be just awesome to make it, he added

- I just want to be in the best shape I can be in when I compete, and want to perform when I get there. I’m no Spring-Chicken. After the Paralympics, I hope to retain my European title once again and then it’s retirement for me. Twelve more months of hard graft and I can leave on a high. That’s the plan! Rooke told us

Seckin and Levi in the same boat

Earning a runners up spot in Canada and Thailand this year helped Emine Seckin to world number five in the women’s singles WH2 ranking list. With some of those points earned before Paralympic qualifying began including the European title, number seven in the Road to Tokyo list adds pressure to Seckin from Turkey who has three different nations above her.

Close behind Rooke in the men’s singles rankings is Israel’s Amir Levi. Twice former World Champion, the 42 year old ex tennis player has one title to his name this year, after claiming gold in Uganda. We caught up with Levi in Denmark recently, to ask about his experience of Para badminton

- Players are professional now. It is not like it used to be. When it became a Paralympic sport I returned to the game, but many young athletes train full time for this and the level became higher and higher.

- I don’t have age on my side any longer, and I’m not a full professional but I do train every day. I have a job as well, I need it. It is my dream to make it to the Paralympics, but it is not easy! I don’t have a partner in men’s doubles so I have to make my way in singles. If I do my best I think I can make it. 

Look out for more Para badminton reviews of the different sport classes this week across our platforms 

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