It was a case of what could have been at the inaugural para-badminton tournament at the Tokyo Games, with both Grant Manzoney and Caitlin Dransfield going down in the matches today.
And while they would both admit that they had hoped to do a little better at these Games they are grateful for the experience and will use it as a platform to grow their personal skill level as well as for the game of Badminton in Australia.
Day two of the tournament saw Manzoney face world no. 1 Kim Jung Jun from Korea, while Dransfield was favoured in her match up with Canada’s Olivia Meier.
For Manzoney, the challenge was the toughest of the tournament and the result went as expected, with Kim winning 2-0 with 21-8 and 21-9. It was a much better showing from Manzoney who immediately looked more comfortable on court than in his previous days match, pushing Kim in a number of rally’s.
He was philosophical about his performance on the court and happy for the experience it provided him.
“It doesn’t get any better than that you know, you’re playing the best player in the world on the biggest stage in the world, it’s just an amazing feeling, phenomenal. Words can’t describe how much pride I feel representing my nation here in front of everybody.
“Kim Jung Jun is a phenomenal player, he’s been at the top of the world for over a decade and rarely gets beaten so I feel like I played OK. I pushed him in some points and I’m quite happy with the way I played but he just makes you work so hard.”
Dransfield’s match up with Meier proved to be a strong battle between two developing players. Dransfield got the best of Meier in the first game, winning 21-7 before losing the next game 13-21 with a number of unforced errors stifling her scoring ability.
The final game had all the fireworks you can expect from a Badminton game, fast paced with the lead changing hands throughout as the players battled to convert their service to points. In the end Meier triumphed, winning 23-21 and taking the match two games to one.
“I’ve seen her at competitions, I’ve got good footage of her but I’ve never played against her. I had a specific plan going in but obviously on the day it didn’t work out because she beat me but it was a close game, 23-21 in the third,” Dransfield said.
“There’s lots of things that I can go home and work on and hopefully in the next tournament I can implement them in my game.”
For Dransfield, the experience of her first Paralympic Games is one she’ll cherish.
“It’s been a great honour to represent Australia and it’s been a fantastic experience.”
However, for Manzoney his Paralympics takeaway is less about his personal form and more about development of the sport in Australia and Oceania.
“I think this is the best thing that could have happened to Para-Badminton, especially in our region where it’s only a fairly new sport so the uptake of players is slowly, gradually getting better and better and growing. It’s incumbent on myself and Caitlin to be the ambassadors for our sport in our region and inspire and encourage that new generation of players.”
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Women’s Singles SL4
(AUS) Caitlin Dransfield 17 13 (0)
(NOR) Helle Sofie Sagoey 21 21 (2)
(AUS) Caitlin Dransfield 8 16 (0)
(THA) Chanida Srinavakul 21 21 (2)
(AUS) Caitlin Dransfield 21 13 21 (1)
(CAN) Olivia Meier 7 21 23 (2)
Men’s Singles WH2
(AUS) Grant Manzoney 8 5 (0)
(KOR) Kyung Hoon Kim 21 21 (2)
(AUS) Grant Manzoney 8 9 (0)
(KOR) Jung Jun Kim 21 21 (2)
By: Jodie Hawkins, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 3 September 2021