Emil Lyders, Badminton Danmark

The dream of the Paralympic Games: Things are heating up

September 25, 2019 12:15 Published by

 

With a clear dream and objective of reaching the Paralympic Games, three years ago defending VICTOR DENMARK PARA-BADMINTON presented by DANISA champion Cathrine Rosengren threw herself into para-badminton. Two world championship medals later there is now less than one year to go until Tokyo 2020, and the leading Danish singles player is starting to feel the pressure. – It’s a little nerve-wracking but also exciting, admits the Danish Paralympic hope.

To read this article in Danish. Click here. 

When Cathrine Rosengren was first asked whether she was up to competing in para-badminton, she had just won her first medal at the under 15 nationals in Denmark.

Up until then, the thought of playing para-badminton had not occurred to her, as she had never seen herself as being disabled. So, the then 14-year-old player was quick to dismiss the suggestion, she recalls:

– I struggled with the thought that people would start seeing me as disabled. Most of all I was afraid that the people I played badminton with and against would think it was weird if I was suddenly competing in para-badminton, says Cathrine Rosengren, who admits that her concerns have since been proved wrong.

– Since I started playing para-badminton it has only been positive on all counts. Even if there are some people who can’t see how I am ‘allowed’ to play, says Rosengren.

 

Tokyo gets closer and closer

It can be hard to identify the precise nature of the 20-year-old player’s disability. She finds it easy to hide, she explains. Nevertheless she has limited movement in her left arm as a result of nerve damage at birth, and she cannot raise it above shoulder height.

Ever since para-badminton first appeared on Rosengren’s radar almost seven years ago, she has, however, been unable to hide the fact that she is one of the world’s best players in the class she competes in, SU5, which covers standing players with impairments in one or more of their upper limbs.

The kickstart of the Dane’s career came when para-badminton was added to the Paralympic programme.

– In short, the Paralympics was the reason why I started playing para-badminton. From the very start, my goal has been to get to the Paralympic Games, and that is what I have been focused on the entire time, says Cathrine Rosengren, who hopes that Tokyo 2020 will be the culmination of a great deal of hard work.

She has also noticed that the days seem to go by rapidly, and that it will soon be 2020.

– It’s a little nerve-wracking now that it’s starting to get closer, but it’s also exciting. It’s only now that I’ve started to notice the pressure, and it’s cool. It motivates me, having this overall goal to work towards, and that I can measure my level and note the progress moving towards the tournaments, claims Rosengren, who is in no doubt that it would be huge to qualify for the Paralympics.

– It would be a dream come true to be part of it and a huge experience that very few get a chance to have, she says.

– Of course, the goal is also to bring a medal home from Tokyo, she adds acknowledging the two world championship medals already on her CV.

 

Two arch rivals

Nothing is certain yet, however, neither in terms of medals nor participation for that matter for Cathrine Rosengren, given that qualification to the games runs right up until spring next year. As it looks at the moment, however, it would take a lot of hard blows to knock the Danish star para-athlete off the Paralympic course she has long been on.

As Team Manager for Cathrine Rosengren, Badminton Denmark’s Nicolaj Knudsen explains:

– As it looks right now, Cathrine has as good as qualified for the Paralympics. She ranks number three in the world and is miles ahead of the world’s number four. At the world championships in August we also saw that it is primarily the three SU5 women’s singles players in the top three who are fighting each other for the top spots on the podium, and Cathrine continues to work on her game, states a confident Nicolaj Knudsen.

Besides Cathrine Rosengren, the winners’ podium is currently dominated by the Chinese world champion Quixia Yang, who beat Rosengren in this year’s world championship semi-final, and the former world champion from Japan, Ayako Suzuki.

Rosengren is focusing her efforts on getting a grip on both her rivals, she explains:

– Right now, Yang and Suzuki are pretty much the only players I really struggle with beating. So, I’m trying to strengthen my game in relation to Yang and Suzuki, in order to exploit their weaknesses better and improve my game in those areas that they take advantage of when they are playing against me, says Cathrine Rosengren.

 

Fifty-fifty on the day

In the various tournaments that mark the run-up to the end of the qualification period in April next year, Cathrine Rosengren thus hopes to play as many matches as possible against Quixia Yang and Ayako Suzuki.

– What I feel when I meet them is that it’s fairly fifty-fifty on the day as to who wins the match. Unfortunately, up until now it has been them who have had that little bit extra, which is what I’m now working towards bringing over to my side. I hope to get the chance to play against both of them as much as possible, as the more experience I have the better prepared I will be if I run into them at a potential Paralympics, says Cathrine Rosengren.