Kiwi Para badminton players have first taste of worldwide competition in Dubai
Three New Zealand Para badminton athletes return home having tested their mettle against the best in the world.
Hawke’s Bay’s Marinda Jones and Ben Hasselman and Waikato’s Wojtek Czyz competed at the 4th Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2022. With over 200 athletes from across the globe competing in Dubai, the competition provided an insightful benchmark for the New Zealand athletes.
While Marinda and Ben didn’t register a win in their matches against more experienced players, they gained valuable experience which they’ll apply to their preparations ahead of the NZ Wheelchair National Championships and Oceania Para Badminton Championships in July. Marinda competes in the WH1 classification, whilst Ben competes in the WH2 classification.
Meanwhile, Wotjek was able to win 5 matches, progressing into the knock out stages of his SL3 Men’s Singles and SL3-SL4 Men’s Doubles. Together with his scratch partnership with Sweden’s Dilan Jacobssen, the pair progressed into the quarter-finals following a win over a Maldivian pair. Wojtek bowed out to World #5 Daisuke Fujihara in the round of 16, entering the World Rankings at 31st in Men’s Singles SL3. Wotjek, a single leg amputee, competes in the SL3 classification.
Coach Michelle Au is delighted with the outcome.
The three Para athletes have previously competed at Oceania level, but not against a global field. It’s relatively uncommon for Para badminton players to represent New Zealand on the worldwide stage, showing the calibre of the talent coming through the Para Badminton Programme.
The next steps for these players, and their Para badminton peers across the country include the Oceania Para Badminton Championships in Melbourne in July, and the BWF Para Badminton World Championships in Japan in November.
Coach Michelle Au has high hopes for a strong New Zealand team New Zealand at the World Championships.
“New Zealand is in the strongest position it’s ever been with at least three athletes set to secure invitations across four events – more invitations and players than we’ve ever had qualify. This shows the work that has gone into the Para Badminton Programme, all the way through the pathway.”