The VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships 2022 had the largest number of entries in the history of the event, including the entries of four Tokyo 2020 Australian Paralympians:
- Grant MANZONEY (AUS): competed in Wheelchair Class Badminton
- Caitlin DRANSFIELD (AUS): competed in Standing Class Badminton
- Janine WATSON (AUS): won Paralympic Bronze in Para-taekwondo
- Bree MELLBERG (AUS): competed with the Australian Gliders in Wheelchair Basketball
Both Janine and Bree picked up a badminton racquet post-Tokyo-2020, out of curiosity. Fast forward almost a year on from their Paralympic debut, the powerhouse women landed Final and Semi-final spots in the Women’s Wheelchair Singles at the VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships 2022.
Grant, who is also the Australian Team Captain at the championships, he has high hopes for his potential triple Oceania titles.
“Feeling really good. At the moment it’s going along as planned. The real stuff starts tomorrow I guess in finals… I’m in finals for doubles, mixed doubles and singles. And at the moment I feel like I’m playing well. I trained well leading up to it. I improved from yesterday… each day I’ve been feeling better and better and hitting the shuttle better and moving a bit better. So hopefully it all culminates tomorrow in some wins… That was the aim just to come here and come home with 3 gold medals. At the moment that’s still alive and I’ll be doing my very best to make sure that happens, for sure”, Grant reflects with humble pride.
“The championships this year are really exciting because of the extra numbers we’ve got in. So having so many new people as well experiencing their first championships is fantastic. It’s really exciting to be a part of it because since the Paralympics, I can just see how the sport is developing and growing in Australia and in the Oceania region. To have a record number of entries for me is really great.”
For Caitlin, she has had a slightly longer absence from the VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships, having missed the event in 2020 due to a clash with other international tournaments.
“Some of the players are old but I haven’t seen them for like 3 or 4 years. So it’s good to see where they are now as well”, says Caitlin.
Caitlin is very clear about her intention to claim the Oceania title in the standing class Women’s singles from current number one seed, Carrie WILSON (NZL).
“I’m more of a singles player so I’m concentrating on singles. But obviously I want to do well in the others. But my main focus is singles… I’m looking forward to playing Carrie because obviously last time I wasn’t at Oceania’s and she won Oceania’s. So I want to show her that Australia’s still on top.”
“I feel, coming into this tournament I’ve been playing well at home, I’ve been training well, and obviously during COVID we weren’t disrupted in WA. So we were still running our domestic tournaments. So I was able to play tournaments, which has been good coming into this tournament… Came back from Bahrain and Dubai. And we’ve been concentrating on something else at training which it seems to be really paying off. So it’s been good.”
Ahead of the combined Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles combined event matches that remain tomorrow, Caitlin is ready to give it a go.
“It will be tough if we have to come up against Kenneth and Phonexay… being men, a lot stronger. But obviously we’ll just try our best and hit good shots… I’m surprised that they did it though. But obviously there wasn’t enough participants in categories.”
Thank you to Badminton World Federation for awarding Female Participation Grants to Bree MELLBERG (AUS) to support her international badminton development.
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.