With the imminent finals day tomorrow, tension and excitement was high on Day 2 of the VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships. The last of the preliminary round-robins were played throughout the day along with quarter- and semi-final matches throughout the afternoon and evening.
In the group stages, there were tight matches in the Mixed Doubles and Men’s Doubles. With the first Wheelchair Mixed Doubles events ever at the Oceania Para Badminton Championships, players were keen to fight for the first chance at the title:
- XD – WH 1 – WH 2 – Group A (Round 3) – 45 m – Grant LEONARD (AUS) / Fiona SING (AUS) def. Qambar Ali AKHTEYARI (AUS) / Catherine GALLAGHER (AUS) 15-21 21-19 21-8
The teammates from Papua New Guinea also put up a good match against eachother in Mixed Doubles, with returning player Danny TEN pairing up with new player, Dorna LONGBUT, and Jerome BUNGE paired with Australian, Emily O’SULLIVAN:
- XD – SL 3 – SU 5 – Group B (Round 3) – 45m – Danny TEN (PNG) / Dorna LONGBUT (PNG) def. Jerome BUNGE (PNG) / Emily O’SULLIVAN (AUS) 23-21 16-21 21-12
Another Aussie vs Kiwi battle ensued in the Men’s Doubles, setting up for a close final game:
- MD – WH 1 – WH 2 – Group B (Round 3) – 43m – Samir ISHANI (AUS) / Grant LEONARD (AUS) def. Travis MOFFAT (NZL) / Eamon WOOD (NZL) 17-21 21-15 21-18
The new pair from New Zealand were in good spirits after the narrow loss.
“I think we just wanted to go out there and practice some of the stuff we’ve learnt earlier on in the tournament. After the first few games we realised that they had some really nice shots and we were trying to adapt to that and make as least amount of errors as possible… Although we lost, we came away with some stuff to work on”, says Eamon.
“This is our first tournament. We’ve played tennis together and we play some other sports together. But our first badminton tournament; so, it’s exciting.”
The men’s doubles pair from Papua New Guinea also chased the Australian men in the standing classes Men’s and Women’s doubles combined event:
- MD SL3 – SL4 + WD SL3 – SU5 – Group A (Round 3) – 41m – Oliver Kiran LINTON (AUS) / Arnold RAZON (AUS) def. Jerome BUNGE (PNG) / Danny TEN (PNG) 21-15 15-21 21-19
The quarter-finals in the standing women’s singles classes and wheelchair men’s singles produced assuring outcomes. returning Australian athletes Céline VINOT and Zashka GUNSON winning comfortably. And international badminton debutants Samir ISHANI and Nang NGUYEN VAN from Australia winning their quarter-final wheelchair singles matches:
- WS – SL 4 + WS SU5 (Quarter-final) – 19m – Zashka GUNSON (AUS) def. Amonrat JAMPORN (AUS) 21-16 21-6
- WS – SL 4 + WS SU5 (Quarter-final) – 15m – Céline Aurelie VINOT (AUS) def. Effie ABELA (AUS) 21-1 21-1
- MS – WH 1 (Quarter-final) – 21m – Samir ISHANI (AUS) def. Dominic MONYPENNY (AUS) 21-6 21-17
- MS – WH 1 (Quarter-final) – 23m – Nang NGUYEN VAN (AUS) def. Brad AXFORD (AUS) 21-16 21-14
The energy of the semi-finals was a sample of what to expect on finals day tomorrow.
The Wheelchair women’s singles semi-finals were represented by first-time entrants at the VICTOR Oceania Championships. Including Australian Tokyo 2020 Paralympians Bree MELLBERG and Janine WATSON. Janine won Paralympic Bronze in Para-taekwondo, and Bree competed with the Australian Gliders in Wheelchair Basketball.
- WS – WH 1 + WH 2 – WS – WH 2 (Semi-final) – 23m – Janine WATSON (AUS) def. Brooke Holt (AUS) 21-6 21-12
“It’s my first tournament. I’ve only been playing for about 6 months in a wheelchair if I’m lucky. I’m just super happy that I was able to get a few shots back. I know what I need to work on but I’m happy that I managed to get a few really good shots in there… Happy with how I went there”, shares Brooke, who was initially unaware of her semi-final achievement until after the match.
In a heart-stopping and passionate match, Bree bowed out against her fellow Melbourne-based comrade, Mischa GINNS:
- WS – WH 1 + WH 2 – WS – WH 2 (Semi-final) – 46m – Mischa GINNS (AUS) def. Bree MELLBERG (AUS) 19-21 21-14 21-15
“It was a tough game. Bree’s had a bit more experience, played in an international competition. Whereas I haven’t. The first game was really close. I made a few unforced errors, so she just pipped me in the first game. I just shook it off, came back the second game. Still quite a competitive game. Managed to take the second game so we went to a decider. And it just started coming together for me. And I started hitting some good shots, clears, making her play some unforced errors and I just got over the line. It was a great match. I learnt so much from it. I can’t believe I won. The final… so I’ll be up against Janine [WATSON] from Brisbane. So, that will be an interesting game. I’ve never played against her before. So, we’ll see how that goes tomorrow”, the excited and passionate Mischa shared.
The Wheelchair Men’s singles Semi-Finals produced exciting rallies, shots and moves like no previous VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships had seen before. Regardless of the result, respect between both returning athletes and debutants were there before, throughout and after the match:
- MS – WH 1 (Semi-final) – 25m – Nang NGUYEN VAN (AUS) def. Richard John DAVIS (AUS) 21-16 21-13
“I started when COVID started. I had nothing to do. So “maybe I’ll pick up some other sport?” Been playing for two years now… Just a bit over now, I think? Late, late 2018. I haven’t been entering any major competition… Just playing local comp’. Just working on my weakness and skills in the sport, getting to understand the sport… I do a lot of research on players. Mr Ricky over here, eye-balling him on the YouTube in the Dubai game and learning how he’s playing… I come here just to do my best and hopefully the result speaks for itself. He is a very tough player… If I don’t focus, he will get me. There’s a lot of points he got me on there, gave me a good run for my money”, Nang proudly shared.
“It was really good, probably the hardest match I’ve played in two and a half years because we haven’t really had any tournaments… I’ve never come across Nang before, he’s newer to the sport. So, it was really challenging. He’s a really good player so I look forward to the future and playing him more”, Richard reflected.
“[I have played para badminton for] probably about 5 or 6 years. I reckon this is my third Oceania’s now. It’s good. It’s just unfortunate that due to COVID we haven’t had any tournaments for two and a half years. So its been hard to get good match play… So this weekend’s been really good to see the new players out… and play people like Nang and make it really work, and work for it.”
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.
Thank you to Badminton World Federation for awarding Female Participation Grants to Bree MELLBERG (AUS) and Dorna LONGBUT (PNG) to support their international badminton development.
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.