The much-awaited first qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics starts today with the fifth Turkish Para-Badminton International in Antalya.
Unsurprisingly, the event has attracted a large field of 278 players in 22 categories, with all the top players taking part.
The Turkish Para-Badminton International heralds a busy qualifying season, with 10 more events this year and three next year counting towards qualification to Tokyo 2020. Following Turkey, Dubai and Uganda will host the next two para-badminton events in April.
Among the match-ups to look forward to is the men’s singles Wheelchair (WH 2) category, with a likely face-off between top seed Kim Jungjun (Korea) and Chan Ho Yuen (Hong Kong). Kim was undefeated in the category before Chan inflicted on him his first-ever loss at their last meeting in the Australia Para-Badminton International in November.
The contests between world champion Jack Shephard and England compatriot Krysten Coombs in men’s singles Short Stature (SS 6) have always been thrilling affairs, and Coombs will seek to reverse his run of losses should the two again face off in the final.
There will also be plenty of anticipation around the return of China’s Liu Yutong in women’s singles WH 2. Liu, who won the BWF Para-Badminton World Championship in 2017, played only one event last year – the Asian Para Games – at which she won two gold medals.
Her rivals in the category include Japan’s Yuma Yamazaki, local hope Emine Seckin, Thailand’s Amnouy Wetwithan and China’s Xu Tingting.
Japan’s Ayako Suzuki heads in as top seed in women’s singles Standing Upper (SU 5) category, with Denmark’s Catherine Rosengren as second seed.
The men’s singles SU 5 also has the big names, including Malaysia’s Cheah Liek Hou, Indonesia’s Suryo Nugroho, Poland’s Bartlomiej Mroz, Indonesia’s Dheva Anrimusthi and Turkey’s Ilker Tuzcu.