When Luke Missen began competing in Para-badminton, he never thought he could be in contention to be one of Australia’s first Paralympians in his sport.
Fast forward three years and the 24-year-old is on his way to his second World Championships in Seoul, South Korea – in a sport on the verge of massive boom following its inclusion for the first time at the Paralympic Games.
“To think my first World Championships was two years ago is really something. So much has happened since then, and I can’t wait for the journey ahead,” Missen said.
Having never competed internationally prior to the 2015 World Championships, Missen can’t wait for the next opportunity to push himself against the best players in the world in a bid to lower his world ranking from 27 into single digits.
“Going into that first World Championships, I didn’t have many expectations for myself but it gave me a good understanding of where I needed to step up,” he explained.
“World Championships has so far been the pinnacle event for my sport, but there’s so much more at stake with the Paralympic Games coming up, and there will be higher expectations in terms of competition.
“The pressure of Tokyo 2020 is definitely on the horizon, and I know there are a few more players that have come in to the competition, while others are fine tuning their game. Everyone will be there wanting to be the best and prove their potential.
“For me though, at this stage of my career, I’m going in to see where I’m at internationally and push myself against other athletes in my class.”
Unlike some of his toughest competition , Missen, who is an athlete with short stature, does not have the opportunity to regularly compete against other athletes in his class, but instead competes against able-bodied athletes near his home in the Gippsland region of Victoria to prepare himself for international tournaments.
“I definitely feel like I’ve improved a lot, but it’s hard to tell when my main training is against able-bodied athletes at home.
“It pushes me harder in different ways, as I’ve had to adapt to a different game. The people I play against at home will hit harder and at different angles, and while some might see that as an advantage, the real advantage is around having to adapt to different abilities and strengths, and that’s something I’ll have to do in Seoul.”
Missen, who most recently competed at the Thailand International in June, recalls winning his first international game this year and is looking to repeat that high.
“I was over that moon winning that first match in June. I also competed at the World Dwarf Games this year and made it to the Quarter Finals, which is good encouragement for me as I find my way in this sport.
“If I can push a top five athlete in Thailand, and a top 12 in a really tough match, I know the best in me is yet to come.
Missen will represent Australia along with seven other athletes at the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships beginning on November 21.
Australian Para-badminton Team for the 2017 World Championships:
Duke Trench-Thiedeman (Vic) – WH1
Luke Missen (Vic) – SS6
Kobie Donovan (QLD) – SS6
Grant Manzoney (WA) – WH2
Phonexay Kinnavong (QLD) – SL3
Caitlin Dransfield (WA) – SL4
Ryan Kinney (SA) – SL4
Celine Vinot (Vic) – SL3
Coach: Ian Bridge (WA)
By APC Media