, 4 Nations Para Badminton Report by Andrew Peacock, Badminton Wales

4 Nations Para Badminton Report by Andrew Peacock

Ian Johnstone and I were selected to represent Wales at this event which took place at the Emirates in Glasgow. The Arena was built for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and incorporates the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and many other sports as well. This tournament usually rotates between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland – last year it took place in Sheffield and next year will be in Cardiff if funding is in place.

This was a top level tournament organised by BWF and was in fact the final Para Games before the Paralympics in Paris with a few final ranking points and places up for grabs. The prestige of the tournament was reflected by the full team of line judges and many high quality umpires being present, with the majority at BWF, BEC, BEA or International levels.

For anyone who didn’t know, there are 6 classes in Para Badminton, including 2 wheelchair classes, 2 standing classes for lower limb impairments, 1 standing class for upper limb impairments and 1 class for athletes with short stature. This meant for a wide variety of games with changing court sizes to reflect the class of the athletes. As an umpire or line judge you didn’t know which class you would be allocated and so what size court you would be officiating on until just before each match, so there was often a quick check of the crib cards we had been given while lining up! With 6 different classes this also meant there were a lot more finals taking place and so much more chance that each umpire got one.

, 4 Nations Para Badminton Report by Andrew Peacock, Badminton Wales

The day of our arrival saw the usual bunch of bleary-eyed travellers meeting for the first time at the airport where we were given a bus ride to the hotel. The kind receptionist juggled the rooms around to allow us to check in at midday, a rare treat for anyone who has done a few trips to Europe where you are often kept hanging around until 3 or 4 pm. Eager to make the most of his trip, Ian checked in, dumped his bag and immediately got a bus into the City Centre where he allegedly clocked up 14,000 steps. I fell asleep!

The real work got under way later that evening when all the officials staying in the hotel were taken by coach to the Arena on the far side of Glasgow. It was only just over 6 miles away but throughout the week we were to discover this could take up to 40 minutes due to traffic. For some of us it was a first look at the City and it was interesting to see the wide roads and sandstone tenement buildings very much in the style of Victorian times. As with most cities there was the usual contrast of sparkling new development contrasting with neglected and closed up shopfronts, but to me there were more of the latter than usual.

At the Arena we had a detailed briefing from the 2 BWF referees and the 2 local Scottish ones. There were detailed instructions about every aspect of the tournament, emphasising how determined they were to have the highest standards at all times and show proper respect to the athletes and everyone involved.

Once the tournament got under way, it was obvious from the start that these were some of the best Para athletes in the world. There were very few one-sided matches as the number of entries had been more restricted than in Sheffield, although I did have one game of 21-0,21-3 in the Wheelchair Ladies Singles, in which a Wild Card faced the World Number 1.

As for the British representation, there were a few good results from the English players including a win by the top seed and Paralympic medal hope, Dan Bethell in the SL3 Mens Singles, and a semi final defeat in the SH6 Mixed Doubles for Jack Shepherd and Rachel Choong. Wales were represented by Jack Wilson in the SU5 Mens Singles, but he lost his two group games both in closely fought matches.

Saturday was Semi Final Day and for the first time we had an early start, packing the breakfast room at 6.30am. We were also joined by a tour group who were on their way to discover the delights of Aviemore, and care had to be taken that each of our respective groups got on the correct bus! The day went smoothly and Badminton Scotland had provided a Buffet with a disco and Ceilidh at the hotel in the evening, where a good time was had by all.

After the Finals on Sunday everyone was very efficiently transported to the airport / hotel / train station as requested. As for me I walked across the road to take a tour of Celtic’s Football Stadium at Parkhead before spending a couple of days exploring the delights of Glasgow. In this time, I visited several museums, a Whisky Distillery, the Tennent’s Brewery and also redressed the balance by taking a tour of Ibrox Stadium, the home of Glasgow Rangers.

The whole experience was very enjoyable, with excellent badminton and supportive teams everywhere. It was great to see Beth over the first couple of days. Apart from delivering new shirts for Ian and me, she was scoping out how the tournament was being delivered with an eye to Wales hosting it in 2025 – let’s hope it happens!

851 315 Badminton Wales
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