Para badminton and Para taekwondo stars to watch at Tokyo 2020

Here’s everything you need to know about the two new sports and stars expected to thrill at Tokyo 2020

Picture by Courtesy of BWF

Tokyo 2020 will see two sports make their debut in the Paralympic Games with Para badminton and Para taekwondo added to the programme for the first time.

But how much do you know about Para badminton and Para taekwondo or the stars who are expected to compete?

Here's everything you need to know about the sports and the athletes hoping to secure their place in history.

Para badminton

Known as the fastest racquet sport in the world, Para badminton is expected to thrill viewers on the grandest stage of them all.

Although Para badminton is making its first appearance at the Paralympic Games, it has been played internationally for over 20 years. The first World Championships took place in Amersfoort, Netherlands in 1998, and has been taking place every two years since 2001.

Following a bid by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to include Para badminton as a sport in the Paralympic Games, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) selected the sport for Tokyo 2020 in 2014.

Athletes to watch

yamazaki4_修正
Picture by (c)JPBF

YAMAZAKI Yuma (Japan)

Known as a badminton "technician", YAMAZAKI is ranked No. 3 in the women's singles and No. 1 in the women's doubles with partner Satomi Sarina. The right-hander Yamazaki and Satomi are real contenders for the doubles WH1-2 gold medal. But Yamazaki also feels she has much to prove in the WH2 women’s singles event, where she’ll be vying to become the first Paralympic gold medallist in her event. And she has added motivation to triumph - as a proud Tokyo local, she’ll get to do on home soil.

Qu Zimo wm19-SVH-0290
Picture by Courtesy of BWF

QU Zimo (People’s Republic of China)

Ranked No. 1 in the world, QU Zimo secured a triple crown (singles, doubles and mixed doubles) in badminton in 2019. As the world champion in the men’s singles WH1 and doubles WH1-2, he is looking to add the Paralympic gold in Tokyo. The surprising thing is that this rising talent turns 20 just before the Opening Ceremony.

20190623-Ireland-Para-Badminton-2019-ARS_1076
Picture by Courtesy of BWF

Leani Ratri Oktila (Indonesia)

A triple world champion, Leani Ratri Oktila is one of the favourites for Para badminton gold. She claimed her first world women’s singles SL4 title in 2019 and has not looked back since. In that season, her best yet, she won 12 golds, two silvers and one bronze. Few would bet against her adding to her impressive medal tally in Tokyo.

Para taekwondo

It is later than expected, but Para taekwondo is another sport making its debut at the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. A variation of the Korean martial art, Para taekwondo is contested in the kyorugi sparring format by athletes with upper limb impairments. In 2009, the first Para taekwondo World Championships were held in Baku, Azerbaijan. Eight years later, Para taekwondo was confirmed as a sport for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Athletes to watch

GettyImages-1130026159-1

OTA Shoko (Japan)

Having competed in three Paralympic Winter Games, OTA Shoko is set to compete in her first summer edition. The biathlete and cross-country skier hung up her skis following the Sochi 2014 Games and has successfully crossed over to the world of martial arts . She is taking to the tatami mats in the women’s +58kg class in Tokyo. Ota won the Para title in the All-Japan Taekwondo Championships and a bronze at the 2019 World Para Taekwondo Championships in Antalya, Turkey. The two-time Paralympic medallist is one of the taekwondo medal contenders in Tokyo. And with the home-town advantage – there’s everything to play for.

READ MORE: OTA Shoko: Going for gold in her first summer Games

Juan Diego Garcia Lopez (Mexico)

Arguably Para taekwondo’s best fighter, Juan Diego Garcia Lopez is a strong medal contender at Tokyo 2020, having won the world and Pan American Games titles. Notoriously difficult to beat, the Sinaloan has set his heart on winning gold in para taekwondo’s debut and using the platform to inspire others.

LI Yujie (People’s Republic of China)

LI Yujie’s rise through the ranks in the world of Para taekwondo is remarkable. The Chinese taekwondoin went from unranked contender in the up to 58kg K44 division to world No. 2 in little over a year. Her rise includes becoming world champion. Li is a force to be reckoned with, so expect her to be in the battle for gold.