Alcudia is this week hosting the Iberdrola Para-Badminton Open for the third time, and this year the pressure will be on the competitors from all over the world more than ever.
Organised by Amparo Rayó Meca, international organiser of Club Badminton Pollença, and Marc Monozis Quail, president of Club Badminton Pollença, with the full support of Alcudia town hall and in association with Adramar Incoming Services, there will be 248 players from 33 different countries as far away as Japan, Hong Kong, China, India and South America. Plus the support staff, over 400 people will be based in Alcudia for the tournament at the sports centre.
The event has the additional support this year of the Rafa Nadal Academy, which has provided all the umpire chairs, while the Badminton World Federation is sending a team of professional judges. The disabled organisation PEDIF Balears has also lent a specially adapted bus.
What makes this year so important for the players is that this will be their last chance to stake their claim for a spot at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, the first time that para-badminton has been included. So, the stakes are going to be very high in Alcudia. Many of the best teams and players in the world are going to be competing.
The biggest team is coming from the United Kingdom, 41 players in total, and will be headed by champions Krysten Coombs, who has also starred in Game of Thrones, and Jack Shephard. The second largest contingent is from Japan.
All of the players and support teams will be staying at Zafiro and Garden hotels and many are repeat teams.
"They have come to love the ‘Alcudia tournament’, as it has become known on the circuit," says Amparo. "But there’s a lot to play for this year. Some of the teams have already arrived and many make a holiday of the event. A number of teams are staying on the island until 18 March, so it gives Alcudia a good early boost to the season."
The players are divided into six categories, two wheelchair and two lower, upper body or short stature, and this year the organisers have received a record number of entries.
The tournament kicks off on Thursday, tomorrow being registration day, and there will be a special medal ceremony on Sunday after the finals at around 2pm. Entry is free and the organisers hope that as many people as possible go along and support the players.