The International Paralympic Badminton Championship staged in the kingdom has proved to be a smash hit with the hundreds of para-athletes from across the globe who have been in Bahrain competing for medals and glory.
The popular racket sport, which has been hosted by the Bahrain Paralympic Committee (BPC) and Bahrain Badminton and Squash Federation for a second-year-in-a-row, concluded yesterday (May 23). It featured around 100 matches of doubles and singles per day and resulted in notable victories for many of the island’s star para-players, including award-winning Paralympian Roba Alomari.
The wheelchair-bound para-athlete is actually known for her discus, javelin and shotput skills but decided this year to try her hand at badminton.
“I’m thrilled to have won a match in the doubles category on Day One of the competition with my Iraqi teammate, Mohammed Karim,” said the 32-year-old from Hamad Town, who tackled the team consisting of Australian player Fiona Singh and English player Joby Ranjanathan and enjoyed the taste of victory. The first game ended 21-13 and the second one was settled with a tight 26-24 success.
More than 300 players from 42 countries including Japan, Poland, Spain, Italy, Egypt, France, England, Germany, India and more, participated in the championship. Bahrain was represented by 17 men and eight women.
According to the BPC, the competition proved to be an important part of the preparation and qualification plans for the Paris 2024 Games.
“I prepared in the best possible way to compete and gain results, especially as I am competing here, at home, in Bahrain so I wanted to show up!” she explained. “I only started preparing for this 10 days before the competition so to notch victories for me with such a short duration of training is a victory in itself – a first in the history of para-badminton. It means so much to me.
“I thank my badminton coach Abdul Rahman Al-Abbasi for his support as well as my teammates for all their motivational encouragement. They would join me during the weekends just to train with me and help me improve my technqiue.”
Alomari’s second win came on Day Two in a singles match against Ugandan Sarah Naziwa.
Alomari is no stranger to raking in medals. During her sporting career, she has competed in the UK, the UAE, Kuwait, Morocco, Indonesia, China, Brazil, Oman, Tokyo and South Korea, and clinched more than 25 gold, 13 silver and six bronze medals in her sporting career. She had participated in the Grand Prix series in 2019 landing three medals – gold in discus, silver in javelin and bronze in shotput. Last year, she achieved two gold medals in javelin and discus throw and a silver in shotput.
The national team as a whole just missed out on reaching the semi-finals. Nonetheless, the Bahrain squad feel privileged to have played a part in such a major championship and players like Alomari are looking forward to doing even better in this sport in the future.
“I aspire to achieve more,” she added. “I hope to always make my kingdom and the organising committee proud. They worked so hard in preparing for this tournament and ensuring everyone had a great time at the championship and it showed.”
Other teams and coaches, such as Swedish national badminton team coach Paniz Yousefi, were impressed by the quality of the championship’s organisation.
She said that the tournament exceeded her expectations in terms of competition and praised the BPC.
“The Bahrain Paralympic Committee has done a great job,” added Yousefi who is a Badminton World Federation coach, tutor and founder of a project called Parallel Play. “In terms of competition, it was better than expected with a good level of players and matches. I commend the organisers! The future looks bright for Paralympic badminton in the world and we hope that the level will continue to rise higher and higher. We’re really looking forward to the next competition.”