Gunnarson: I do not feel the pressure playing at home
The Iceland International is due to get underway this week on Thursday 23 January in Reykjavík.
The tournament is the first future series tournament of the season. Will the Icelandic star, Kari Gunnarsson, claim the men’s singles title 15 years after the local legend, Broddi Kristjansson?
A new season for Alex Lane
Alex Lane from England is the first seed in the men’s singles. The Cyprus International 2019 runner-up is well prepared to face his opponents.
— I am looking forward to starting the year off in Iceland, I have been training for a good six to eight weeks since my last tournament so hopefully, there are some improvements, Lane said.
— I would hopefully like to win a few titles and progress to the final day of some tournaments in 2020. I am certainly not thinking about the later stages of the tournament just yet. I will just take it match by match and try to make sure each one goes my way, he added.
Gunnarsson is ready to fight
Lane’s contenders include Kari Gunnarsson, second seed and the local, hope for success. The eight-time Icelandic national champion joined the Badminton Europe Center of Excellence (CoE) last year and is happy to start the new season in front of the home crowd. He could potentially face the defending champion, Mikkel Enghøj from Denmark in the quarterfinal, who stopped him last year at the same stage.
— I feel great. I have been practising with a lot of focus and determination, trying to build up to be as strong as possible for the upcoming challenges. Now I am back at the Centre of Excellence in Denmark and I feel like a lot of things I have been working on here are starting to come together, said Gunnarsson.
Asked about how he feels before the home event, he explained:
— It is always nice to play at home. There are some strong players in the tournament so hopefully, we will get some good badminton. I am ready to fight! I do not feel pressure playing at home — everyone is supportive there and that means a lot! The only pressure is the pressure you put on yourself and I have become much better at dealing with that.
Read: “Centre of Excellence” players: Practicing, learning and sharing the passion for badminton
Kate Foo Kune in the battle for Tokyo 2020
The third seed in the women’s singles is Kate Foo Kune, 26, from Mauritius. She is also part of the CoE and came back onto the circuit a couple of months ago after a tough period. Semifinalist at the Zambia International in November and winner of the South Africa International in December, she is hungry for tournaments and successes to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Read: Kate Foo Kune secured a medal in Zambia.
For the full seeding list and draw, click here.