Shephard and Choong strike gold in Spain

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21 April 2024

Rachel Choong and Jack Shephard struck gold at the Spanish Para Badminton International in Vitoria. 

The SH6 mixed doubles second seeds won comfortably in the final while Choong also reached the semi-finals in the SH6 women’s singles.

Shephard and Choong began their campaign with a simple 21-3 21-2 win over Maxime Greboval and Anastasiia Zavalii.

Tougher tests were to come as they fought back from a game down to defeat Hong Kong’s Chu Man Kai and Choi Wing Kei 18-21 22-20 21-8.

Another come-from-behind win came in the semi-final as the pair got the better of Nilton Quispe Ignacio and Giuliana Poveda Flores, winning 16-21 21-10 21-14.

That set up a showdown with India’s Sivarajan Solaimalai and Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan which Shephard and Choong won convincingly.

The duo had lost their four previous meetings in deciders but needed just two games to triumph 21-14 21-14 to win gold.

For Choong, it marked the end of a two-year wait for international silverware and a week where everything worked just as it should.

“For us, we have been working a lot on our consistency,” she said. “And we feel like that really came together this week.

“We were solid and I think that allowed us to just get the other opponents to break down before we did and it really came together nicely, we are really pleased to get the win.”

Meanwhile, for Shephard, the win was a confirmation that he is back to his best after an injury break.

He added: “As a pair, we feel really happy to have got the win, we’ve got a few aims this year to get our points in the ranking up for seedings for Paris for the Paralympics.

“It also puts out a good statement that I am back from injury and it just shows how hard Rachel has been working since I have been injured and coming back so we are really happy with how we got on and we are ready to go again.”

Choong was also in women’s singles action as the third/fourth seed, going undefeated in her four group games and coughing up just 19 points across her first three games.

Against Cai Yi-Lin of Chinese Taipei she had to work harder but still prevailed 21-14 21-19 to set up a quarter-final with Daria Bujnicka of Poland.

Choong advanced without dropping a game, winning 21-13 21-17 before Poveda Flores avenged her mixed doubles semi-final defeat with a 21-11 21-11 win in the women’s singles semi-finals.

Cambell Plant and Victoria Bailey were also in SL3 action and the two faced off in the group stages of the SL3-SU5 mixed doubles.

Bailey came out on top with her Dutch partner Jareth van der Weijden, winning 21-18 21-8 against Plant and Rudolf Klein of Slovakia.

The two met again in the women’s doubles with Plant triumphing this time alongside Meike de Kraa of the Netherlands, they beat Bailey and Oksana Kozyna of Ukraine 21-7 21-11.

Those were Bailey and Plant’s two victories in Spain with the former losing a final-game decider in the mixed doubles, while Plant lost out 23-21 13-21 21-15 in the women’s doubles quarter-finals.

Photo credit: Jnanesh Salian/BadmintonPhoto

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