Shephard and Bethell win gold in Canada
Jack Shephard has set his sights on World Championship gold following his triumph at the Canada Para Badminton International.
Shephard was one of three members of the travelling England squad to return with medals, with Bethell also top of the podium in the SL3 category and Rachel Choong taking silver in the women’s SH6 singles.
Shephard, already a two-time world champion, didn’t drop a set all tournament and defeated Brazil’s Vitor Tavares 21-17 21-10 in the final.
He said: “It was a great week out there. I really counted on the tactics we had to apply and made the result happen.
“I’m just always striving to win and show the rest of the world who’s the best player.
“We’re peaking for the World Championships later on this year. My ambitions are to win it.
“I’m two-time world champion at the moment and I want to make it three.”
In the men’s SL3 singles, Bethell – who withdrew from the Bahrain International final in May due to injury – prevailed against familiar foe Pramad Bhagat, who won last year’s Paralympic final between the two, in three sets to claim gold.
Choong was beaten by Carmel Flores in her final but continues to impress on her return to tournament badminton and now has two silvers in as many tournaments, while she also teamed up with Krysten Coombs to win an SH6 mixed doubles invitational as part of Saturday’s action.
Coombs was knocked out in the group stages of the SH6 men’s singles while Isaak Dalglish made the quarter-finals before being knocked out by Hong Kong’s Chun Yim Wong.
And head coach Richard Morris hailed his squad’s grit and determination following another successful weekend.
Morris said: “Dan [Bethell] showed some real character. He had an injury from Bahrain and we couldn’t do the amount of training that we would like and that did affect his fitness.
“But he adapted to that out here and really dug deep to beat the Paralympic champion.
“So, if you can beat the Paralympic champion on a bad day then they should be worried on your good day.
“Rachel [Choong]’s is just a really positive performance. In the mixed doubles, she gave an outstanding performance and was the player of the day for me.
“In her singles, she really dug deep. She hasn’t played much singles since started on the programme but she’s really starting to find her feet and find her groove and that’s showing.
“It’s something new for us, back-to-back tournaments, and a short stay over. It’s something we haven’t done much.
“We just made sure this time round that the programme was bang on for us and I think we nailed it.
“Coming to the tournament not at our full flying fitness and still being able to perform is something that the team have done well.
“We go to Ireland in three weeks and then Thailand four weeks after that. We’re back home now to get back on the courts as fast as we can and get our head down and fix the areas that we have established we need to work on.”
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