Choong claims double gold in Bahrain

Choong Shephard Bahrain 800

26 May 2024

Rachel Choong got revenge with double gold at the Bahrain Para Badminton International 2024.

The SH6 shuttler won women’s singles gold before partnering Jack Shephard to the doubles title.

Shephard also returns from the Middle East with two medals having claimed silver in the SH6 men’s singles.

Choong went unbeaten across the week in Manama, dropping just 16 points during the round-robin stages of the women’s singles.

The Liverpudlian beat Daria Bujnicka of Poland 21-2 21-7 before dispatching Anastasiia Zavalii of Ukraine 21-5 21-2.

Tougher tests were to come as Choong beat Nina Kozlova 21-16 21-13 to set up a rematch with Oliwia Szmigel in the final.

Choong lost to the Polish shuttler in a decider in the European Games final last summer but delivered a sparkling performance in Bahrain as she won both games 21-14 21-14 to claim her first gold of the week.

Para-badminton head coach Richard Morris said: “It was a potential banana skin for Rachel and she will be the first to admit that.

“Losing to Szmigel in the finals of the Euros in August last year, I think that was the last time they played.

“So to play her again, Rachel was dominant from start to finish, there were a few peaks and troughs but all-in-all Rach put out a real performance to win comfortably in two games which was quite impressive.”

Choong had already played Szmigel earlier in the week in the doubles alongside Shephard.

The two began their campaign against Szmigel and Bujnicka, winning 21-5 21-6 before defeating Emad Adil Al Dhawahir and Abdulla A Alsaif of Egypt and Kuwait 21-2 21-6.

Up against Canada’s Anthony Vibol Hay and Emilien Langelier, Choong and Shephard triumphed 21-5 21-11 to make it to a third final in a row.

There they met Choi Wing Kei and Chu Man Kai of Hong Kong where they won in 24 minutes, claiming gold with a 21-11 21-12 victory.

“The doubles have become a real partnership over the last six months,” Morris added. “They’ve really connected and bonded as a team.

“I put that down to Boxy [James Boxall, assistant coach] back at home putting so much time and effort into them and then myself at the back of the court.

“We’ve become a real squad of four and it means that we’ve got more depth, we’re more versatile, we can adapt and stay together and we don’t break apart.

“It means we don’t have those wobble games, or bad games anymore, we’re just on a positive push and we’ve been maintaining that since Spain.

“We’ve had to face all different kinds of opposition and we’ve done really well against every single one of them, hard work is paying off I think.”

Shephard’s return to competitive men’s singles got off to a great start with silver in Manama.

Comfortable wins over Hay and A Alsaif in the group stages were followed by a difficult test against Chun Yim Wong of Hong Kong, with Shephard beating the world No.8 21-17 24-21.

Shephard advanced to the final without dropping a game as he beat Langelier 21-7 21-9 in the last four.

In the showpiece, he faced world No.2 Chu Man Kai 24-22 21-5, coming close to taking the opener but was unable to close out the game at three times of asking.

The whole para squad is now preparing for the 4 Nations Para Badminton International which this year takes place at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow in June.

Optimized by Optimole