Day 1 of the VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships 2022 has proven to be one of the most exciting days in the history of the event, with new players competing against seasoned athletes across 5 classifications. Also on court today were two recipients of the Badminton World Federation Female Participation Grant 2022: Dorna LONGBUT (PNG) and Bree MELLBERG (AUS).
In the Mixed Doubles, the Aussie versus Kiwi rivalry is still strong, with Paralympian Caitlin Dransfield still asserting her place in the competition with a tight win:
- (Round 1) – 41m – Kenneth ADLAWAN (AUS) / Caitlin DRANSFIELD (AUS) def. Oliver Kiran LINTON (NZL) / Carrie Joanne WILSON (NZL) 18-21 22-20 21-19
“I was feeling good. It was the first time playing with my partner, so we had to work out some strategies to outplay and outwit the other opponents. But it was a good game. We lost unfortunately 21-19 in the third game… I really enjoyed it but it was a hard game to start with”, says Carrie.
In the other round robin box, both Aussie and PNG pairs teamed up in seasoned and newcomer combinations:
- (Round 1) – 26 m – Arnold RAZON (AUS) / Céline Vinot (AUS) dev. Danny TEN (PNG) / Dorna LONGBUT (PNG)
“It was closer than what I would have wanted. But we got the win out of that… Trying to reduce the unforced errors and hitting it away from [Danny] who smashes quite well”, says Céline.
“Difficult… but just we are not using our mindset. We are rusty. I am rusty, one. Two, my partner is a new player. She is an athletic runner but she is new too. That’s why we are helping each other. But when I have a good partner, then we win. But I’m happy. I lost the game but I’m not lost. Next game… I only played 3 matches. The next game is still strong. I am not afraid of any players or anybody because we are the same – same group, same people. I’m not playing with able-bodied”, says Danny.
“Mixed Doubles paired up with Celine was a lot more competitive. It was from second game with me and Celine. Celine’s around for a long time so she’s a good educator. Can only get better. So looking forward to our next game which is I think tomorrow. So far undefeated in the mixed doubles so see what tomorrow brings”, says Arnold.
Upon the close of entries and classification, some standing classification events were merged and the SH 6 classes was cancelled. However, most players were understanding and accepting of competing against players of varying abilities. In the Women’s Singles, opponents and compete regardless of their differing court boundaries for their classification.
“I’ll be playing full court singles, which I haven’t played in a while. But if I’m confident in my shots and I know I can play full court, then it should be a good match”, says Céline ahead of her match.
“SL 3 is in Paris 2024 in two-years time. So my aim is to qualify in my own right for those games. So my focus is on half-court singles. But at the moment I have to play full-court singles in this event. So working on that. And firstly get the most out of it. If I don’t win I don’t win. I’ll just work on the shots I’ve been working on that will improve my half-court game.”
After a narrow loss, Zashka echoed a similar understanding, saying “I’m SL 4. So I play SL 4 women’s and also the rest of this competition I’ve been classed with a couple of different classes for singles as well. So I guess between myself and I know Caitlin, is also in my classification and Kim but she’s not playing singles. It’s good to have the classifications but a lot of the time you end up mixed up in a range of different – with different players who you normally wouldn’t play. I guess it’s just an experience.”
“Earlier I played Celine full court even though she is SL 3 so she’d normally be playing half court. And we went to 3 games but she beat me. And I accept that… The way that I played wasn’t as good as what I would have liked to have. But I mean, that’s okay. I can work on making sure I’m playing a variety of shots and just keep the mentality that I can beat her and I will beat her.”
Some of the women’s and men’s doubles events were also combined, meaning men’s doubles pairs played against women’s doubles pairs in some cases.
- – 21 m – Céline Vinot (AUS) / Zashka Gunson (AUS) def. Oliver Kiran LINTON (NZL) / Arnold RAZON (AUS) 21-10 21-12
“I think because it happens a lot in para where we just don’t have enough people in each classification. I kind of accepted the fact that we’d be playing some games against just men’s doubles. And for us that wasn’t such a problem because I felt that we’ve played before together for quite a bit. And being able to pull ourselves together and play at a higher level than we should be at some point, it was a good experience.”
Other stunning matches of the day included new players from Australia, plus an upset for a first seed:
- – 48 m – Brooke HOLT (AUS) def. Fiona SINGH (AUS)  21-19 18-21 22-20
- – 41 m – Janine WATSON (NZL) def. Bree MELLBERG (AUS)  17-21 21-17 21-15
- – 42 m – Dominic MONYPENNY (AUS) / Nang NGUYEN VAN (AUS) def. Brad AXFORD (AUS) / Pradeep HEWAVITHARANA (AUS) 21-12 12-21 21-12
All matches on courts one and two will be available to watch on the live stream, while news and results from the event will be available to view on our website and Facebook page. Join the conversation using #VOC22.
Badminton Oceania thanks the Australian High Commission for supporting the team and our mission to make badminton more accessible.
This funded initiative also complements the ongoing efforts of the Inclusive GymBad. The programme which is exclusive to Papua New Guinea combines Shuttle Time and Gymnastics activities, delivering to communities while aiming to remove or reduce the barriers experienced by people with a disability, particularly women and girls, to participate equally. Similarly, this is funded by the Australian Government through the #PNGAusPartnership