The Irish Para-Badminton International Championships takes place in the National Indoor Arena this week between Thursday (June 22nd) and Sunday (June 25th), and there is plenty of interest from an Irish point of view as nine Irish players take to the court to face off against some of the best competitors from around the world.
Below is an insight into on a number of those competing in Irish colours this week;
Laura-Lee Jenkins first started playing badminton during a summer scheme when she was eight years old. Currently residing in Co. Down, she works as a solicitor on a daily basis. A six-time gold medallist at National Championships, Laura notes that her favourite moments in her career to date include winning two bronze medals at the 2015 Irish Para-Badminton International, along with her fourth-place finish at the seventh European Para-Badminton Championships. Laura’s future ambition is to compete in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo when Para-Badminton will be played for the first time at a Paralympic Games. The prospect of competing in the National Indoor Arena really excites Laura and she is privileged, proud, and excited to have the support of the home crowd behind her this week.
Watch out for Laura-Lee this week as she competes in the WS WH1, WD WH1-WH2, and the XD WH1-WH2 categories.
Born in Belfast twenty-three years ago, Stephen has been playing badminton since he was aged seven when his father first introduced him to the game. Stephen, who is a member of Alpha BC in Lisburn, played his first international event in 2013 when he competed at the World Championships in Dortmund. He then followed that World Championship appearance up again when he competed in the same event two years later in Stoke Mandeville. He has an accomplished career to date and has been victorious at the Irish Four Nations Championships in 2012 and 2016. Stephen highlights the influence that coach Eugene McVeigh has had on his career to date, and badminton is now his number one sport having previously played soccer. His opening match victory in the 2013 World Championships ranks as his favourite career moment to date due to the nerves he had playing in his first international tournament. In terms of his future ambitions in the sport, Stephen hopes to qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games while he is really looking forward to that special feeling of playing in his home championships this week.
Watch out for Stephen this week as he competes in the MS SL4 and MD SL3-SL4 categories.
A native of County Galway, Owen is currently a member of Ballygar BC. Owen first started playing badminton when he was aged nine and competed for the first time as an Ireland representative at the 2015 Irish Para-Badminton International where he had a third-place finish in the MD event. Being asked to be part of the Irish Para-Badminton team ranks as his favourite moment in his career to date, while Owen also remarks how Eugene McVeigh and the rest of the Irish Para-Badminton team have been hugely influential in terms of helping him develop as a player in recent years. The real attraction of the Irish Para-Badminton International Championships in Dublin for Owen is that he gets the opportunity to watch and compete, against some of the top players from around the globe. Owen hopes to continue to raise the profile of Para-Badminton in Ireland in every possible way.
Watch out for Owen this week as he competes in the MS SU5 category.
Wayne was first introduced to badminton by his neighbour Liz at eighteen years of age. He then played socially for a number of years, but at this year’s Irish Para-Badminton International he will make his debut at international level. A member of the Portarlington Parochial BC, Wayne is currently employed as an OPW tour guide at one of Ireland’s most historic landmarks, Kilmainham Gaol. On a personal level, his primary target is to continuously improve every time he takes to the court, but he also recognises the importance of the sport being enjoyable as it is number one piece of advice for up and coming players.
Watch out for Wayne this week as he competes in the MS SL4 and MD SL3-SL4 categories.
In addition to the four competitors above, Niall McVeigh, Chris Stewart, Michael Smith, Emma Farnham, and Cormac Harmon will all be in action throughout the week.
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