ALMOST 100 of the best Para-badminton players in Britain will converge on Ravenscraig Regional Sports Centre in Motherwell from February 15-17 for the sixth Scottish 4 Nations Para-badminton Championships.
Scotland's 2012 European Championship Standing SL3 singles gold medallist and 2011 world silver medallist Alan Oliver (Alloa) will be heading the line-up at the three-day tournament.
Oliver will be joined in the draw by team-mate Steven Moodie (Inverness), who was a gold medallist at the world championships in 2011 and took bronze in the men’s doubles with Oliver at last year’s Europeans in Germany.
However, they won’t be partners at this event, with Oliver partnering Colin Leslie (Dalkeith) and Moodie playing with regular partner Bobby Griffin (England) to see if they can improve on their runners-up finish of last year.
Crieff’s Niall Jarvie, another 2012 European bronze medallist, will partner England’s Daniel Bethel in what is a strong men’s doubles line-up.
In the half court men’s singles, Oliver will be aiming to reclaim the title he won in 2011 but faces stiff competition from last year’s champion Jarvie, whilst Moodie will be hoping to go one better than last year in the full court singles when he finished runner-up to Griffin.
In the Wheelchair events Kirsty Johnstone-Jones (Glenrothes) will continue her rivalry with England’s Paula Robinson as she aims to turn the brace of trophies she won last year into a treble this year.
Last year Johnstone-Jones won the women’s doubles with Fiona Christie (South Queensferry) and the mixed doubles with David Quarrie but was runner-up to Robinson in the singles. Johnstone-Jones will defend her women’s doubles title with Christie but has a new mixed partner this year – England’s David Follett.
English pair Gobi Ranganathan and Martin Rooke will defend their men’s doubles title and Ranganathan will also partner Christie in the mixed.
An impressive dwarf entry sees nine players tackle the men’s singles, with a separate boys’ event attracting four entries. The 2011 champion Niall McVeigh (Ireland) and last year’s winner Andrew Martin (England) start as favourites in the men’s singles whilst England’s Rachel Choong will defend the treble of women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed that she won last year.
The LD events once again provide the biggest entry with 26 men and 16 women entered. There will be a new LD class 1 men’s singles champion this year in the absence of Cameron Robertson, but England’s Hazel Johnson and East Kilbride’s Diane Gillan will once again compete for honours in the women’s singles – last year Johnson defeated Gillan in the final.
The line-up includes 19 players in the dwarf events, 42 in the learning disability events, 13 in the standing events and 14 in the wheelchair events. In addition to the main championships, BADMINTONscotland are also investing in the future of the sport, running a Physical Disability (PD) classifying course throughout the weekend.
Lyndon Williams, Chair of the 4 Nations Para-badminton Working Group, said “Once again it is great to see such an impressive entry at this season’s Scottish 4 Nations Para-badminton Championships. Scotland always puts on a great 4 Nations Championships and I’m sure the tournament this year will be a fantastic event once again.
“The standard is continuing to rise across all the categories and this is shown by the fact that we have several World and European Championships medallists in the line-up. I am expecting some superb games over the weekend and I would encourage everyone to come along and watch what is a fantastic event.
“I’m also delighted that we are able to stage a course to help develop classifiers for the PD events, which will help our sport in the future.”
For further information on the 4 Nations Championships and other Para-badminton opportunities in Scotland, contact BADMINTONscotland on 0141 445 1218.