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Dubai Para-Badminton Intl: Bhagat, Murugesan to lead India's campaign in season-ender

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Dubai, Dec 10 (IANS) A galaxy of stars including Paralympic Games medallists and recently-crowned Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games champions will be in action here over the next one week when the 5th Fazza Dubai Para-Badminton International 2023 begins at the Al Nasr Club on Monday.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai 2023 International will be the last Para-Badminton event of the season in the BWF calendar and offers important qualification points towards the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

The 2024 Para-Badminton World Championships in Pattaya next February will be the final event before the qualification period ends on March 31, 2024.

With a line-up of over 300 shuttlers from 41 nations, fierce competition is expected in most of the categories with old rivalries set to revive in Dubai.

Aiming for the Paralympic ranking points, nations including China, Indonesia, India, Japan, and the Republic of Korea will be ready to put up a dominating show with strong line-ups in their ranks.

Bhagat, Murugesan to lead Indian charge

Team India, led by Asian Para Games champions Pramod Bhagat (MS SL3, XD SL3-SU5) and Thulasimathi Murugesan (WS SU5), will be hoping to finish the year on a high. The team will also have Krishna Nagar (MS SH6) and Manasi Joshi (WS SL3) among others in their line-up.

“Dubai has been an important destination in the Para-Badminton calendar, and we love coming here. The 2023 edition is an important event offering qualification rankings points to Paris 2024,” said Bhagat, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games gold medallist.

"Personally, I would look to regain my top place in men’s singles SL3 and finish the year on a high. In mixed doubles, I and my partner (Manisha Ramadass) are in good stead and hope to finish inside the medals," he said.

Team China will have Paralympic and Asian Para Games stars including Qu Zimo and Liu Yutong (both competing in WH2), and Hefang Cheng (WS SL4) in their ranks while for Indonesia, their star players Leani Ratri Oktila (WS, WD SL4), Rina Marlina (WS SH6), Dheva Anrimusthi (MS SU5) and Freddy Setiawan (MS SL4) will be leading the charge.

Hong Kong, China meanwhile will be led by their Paralympic and Asian Para Games champion Chu Man Kai (MS SH6) while Malaysia’s Cheah Liek Hou (MS SU5) will look to continue his good run in Dubai.

The hosts the United Arab Emirates will be represented by three players – Siham Al Rasheedy, also competing in Para Athletics since 2005, will make her debut, while Jamal Al-Badawi, who recently competed at the Asian Para Games, will lead the team. Badawi also competes in international wheelchair basketball competitions.

“I am very excited to compete in my first Para-Badminton event. I had a good preparation with the coach (Aditya) for the last one month. I look to get some good learning experience at the event as Paralympic and continental champions are playing here,” said the Dubai Club trainee Al Rasheedy.

Japan’s Paralympic champion Daiki Kajiwara will be another name to watch in men’s wheelchair events. Paris 2024 Paralympic hosts France will also be fielding some of their top names including David Toupe (WH1) and Thomas Jakobs (WH2) to gain important qualification points.

Besides, Brazil will have their Parapan Am Games champions Marcelo Alves Conceicao (MS WH1), Rogerio De Oliveira (MS SL4) and Ana Carolina Reis (WS SL4) in their ranks.

--IANS

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