When Carrie Wilson walked into Ballarat Badminton Stadium in February 2020 to compete in her first Continental Championships, little did she know that she would be leaving with a gold medal.
The New Zealander benefitted from the Female Para Player Participation Grant to assist her competition and quickly rose to the occasion. She topped her group to land a top spot in the knockout rounds, where she eventually prevailed in the women’s singles SL3+SL4+SU5 final against Australia’s Kim Doung 21-13 21-17.
A few years prior to the competition, she prolapsed a disk in her back which left her paralysed below the right knee. However, the injury didn’t stop her as she continued to play and train regularly alongside able-bodied players in her local club, based in Christchurch.
Carrie plays and coaches regularly with able-bodied and disability clubs in her hometown (Christchurch). Like most players, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a halt to international competitions for Carrie, but it also came with further complications including a dislocated hip. However, her passion to help others learns and her artistic habits helped her to stay motivated during the difficult lockdowns. Now, she aims to pick up where she left in this year’s Continental Championships which get underway at the end of this month.
Ahead of her attempt to defend her title, we caught up with Carrie for a Q+A to reflect on the 2020 tournament and learn about her journey since.
Can you reflect on the 2020 Championships?
Coming home from the Oceania Championships in 2020 with a win was a super great feeling and I had a strong desire to keep training to see how far I could take Para badminton in future tournaments.
I was training hard at the gym and down at the hall, I even had some physio. I was putting a lot of pressure on my good leg knee. So I needed some physio on my good knee, which has now healed. Then during the lockdown I dislocated my hip which was a devastating blow to my training. I was down and out for about 6-8 weeks. During lockdown I was fortunate to spend it my sister and annoy my lovely niece (11) and nephew (9) so they kept me out of trouble.
What kept you occupied during the COVID-19 lockdown periods?
When I’m not playing or coaching badminton or teaching (work) I love to do art mostly with spray paint and woodworking. Once my hip was better, I decided I could sit in a chair and coach my wheelies – that’s what I call my wheelchair group.
They are all in chairs and are all different levels, I enjoy coaching them as they coach me just as much. I am taking two of the wheelies away to Oceania this year, so I’m proud that they have been training hard and we will see where they come on the international level.
Have you found any new motivations/inspirations since your 2020 title?
I am very motivated to see Para badminton continue to grow. Whenever there is an opportunity to show case the sport at a give it a go do I’m happy to run it. I will continue to support the wheelies on their journey, where we get more for a social hit and more that want that training.
In addition to coaching the wheelies on a Friday, I also coach 2 groups of able bodied kids ages 5-8 and 9-16 on a Wednesday night. Then, every two weeks I have been coaching a small group who are potentially up and coming Para badminton players. Watch this space!
What are your aims for this year’s Championships?
My goals for this tournament are to keep calm and play the best badminton I can. My training leading up has been rough. Getting COVID-19 three weeks beforehand isn’t ideal. I’ll stick to plan and see what happens. Another big area is getting use to knowing my doubles and mixed partners. So that will be interesting as I have never played with them
In the future I would love to take my badminton as far as this old body will allow. Funds pending too. Would love to make it to the World Championships in Japan!
I’d just like to thank Badminton Canterbury, Parafed Canterbury, Cyril Smith Fund and the ladies in the background – Jeanna, Jo and Michelle for supporting me this journey. I am always on the lookout for more sponsorship if I was to try and get to France 2024.
The VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships 2022 will take place at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre from 29-31 July 2022.
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