In the last five months, Celine Vinot has only been able to access a badminton court once – a tough blow to one of Australia’s Paralympic candidates.
The Melbourne-based player lives and trains in one of Australia’s worst hit hotspots during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the state of Victoria continues to endure a strict lockdown.
Vinot only discovered Para badminton three years ago, but has since gone on to attend development camps and continental championships to become a prominent figure on Oceania’a scene.
Thankfully, the experience gained from the last three years has empowered Vinot to train from home as she chases the Paralympic dream.
Originally an SL3 player – which means the player is standing and could have an impairment in one or both lower limbs and poor walking/running balance – Vinot has had to transition to the SL4 classification if she hopes to qualify for Tokyo 2020, as the SL3 discipline is not part of Tokyo’s Paralympic programme.
The SL4 classification is also for standing players, but the player has a lesser impairment compared to SL3 and could have an impairment in one or both lower limbs and minimal impairment in walking/running balance.
“SL4 is a completely different game as we play on a full court as opposed to a half court, like in SL3. Therefore, the tactics are also very different”
“Lockdown has essentially gifted me with more time to train and work on my game to as I need to adapt my game to play on a bigger court. Obviously, it would help if I had access to a court, but during lockdown I am managing to train around five times per week which mainly involves lots of running and footwork exercises”, says Celine
The frustrating lack of badminton has been made to feel a little lighter recently following her accepted sponsorship with YONEX.
“It’s nice to know that others want to assist the development of my game and a sponsorship really helps to keep me motivated and stay on track”
Similarly, two-time continental champion in the WH2 classification, Grant Manzoney, has also been sponsored by YONEX as he pursues the same dream.
Both players were a key part of Australia’s contingent attending last year’s TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019, with Vinot hoping that the sponsorship will ease the financial strain on sports equipment to allow her to keep training and competing.
The French-speaking Victorian has also been able to fund her Para badminton aspirations by assisting Badminton Oceania with translation of various document, as a handful of member associations in Oceania have use French as their first language.