Sports

Case delighted with badminton boom, promises CAC medal

BY DWAYNE RICHARDS
Observer writer

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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With the steady improvement being shown by her players in the last twelve months or so, president of the Jamaica Badminton Association (JBA) Nichole Case is confident that the sport will continue to do well internationally, as was the case in Peru recently.

Jamaica's top men's doubles pair of Samuel Ricketts and Gareth Henry returned to the island with a bronze medal from the Peru International and Case sees this as a sign of growth.

“Over the last year Jamaica has clocked medals that we have not clocked in a very long time. We have gotten gold medals, silver medals and bronze medals. Our most recent medal was our top men's doubles pair and our Olympic hopefuls, Samuel Ricketts and Gareth Henry, they got the bronze medal at the Peru International,” said the JBA head.

Despite not winning gold, Case believes there are great takeaways from the performance of Henry and Ricketts.

“They lost to the eventual winners of the tournament in three sets, so we are taking a lot of positives from that encounter that our guys can truly compete at the highest level we just need to push forward and go beyond the bronze and start getting more gold and silver, but we are very happy with their progress and we will continue to push,” she noted.

The coaching staff also came in for commendations from the president, who highlighted the part they have played in Jamaica's improvement in recent times.

“We really want to thank our coaches. Our Head Coach Neil Lewis has been doing quite a good job with our senior players and under his leadership our players have been getting medals,” Case said.

The Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games begin today in Barranquilla, Colombia, and Case is looking for another medal from these championships as well.

“We are looking to get a medal at the CAC Games. We know that the competition is quite stiff, (but) we have gotten the gold against our Caribbean counterparts, [so] we expect to do the same. I must say that it's going to be very challenging. Cuba is a very big contender for us and a number of the Central American teams are very strong and dominant in the Pan Am region, but our guys can compete,” she noted.

Che Alexander Henry, who is making his first senior badminton team, is looking forward to doing something special for his country.

“I am giving thanks for this opportunity. This is my first major tournament for badminton and I am looking to do really well. I am in competitive shape, so I am really looking to at least medal in this tournament,” he said.

“The team tournament will be played first and then the individuals,” Henry outlined.

“I am really looking to do well in the individual singles but, better than that, I am looking to be at least in the finals for the team event.”

The Commonwealth Games appearance by some of his counterparts was a significant motivating factor for Henry, which spurred him on to make his first Jamaica team at 30 years old.

“It was an uplifting feeling; it's always good to gain experience in whatever tournament, especially internationally, because we need that more.So it really motivated me to seek a place on the team to the CAC Games,” he explained.

general secretary of the JBA Antonio Bell said that the success in badminton comes as no surprise to his organisation.

“The recent exploits of our men's doubles pair of Samuel Ricketts and Gareth Henry has been in the making for some time now. They have been on the up and steadily improving for the past two years. We will continue to put the support behind the players that are showing the promise and the fortitude to move forward and improve their rankings and win at major tournaments.”

The pair is now ranked at 109 and Bell is certain that they will be breaking into the top 100 in short order. He also promised full support to all the players who show the passion and desire to wear the black, green and gold of Jamaica.

“Players that are showing the drive and the zest to improve and push ahead, we will be supporting them 100 per cent. We want to nurture and create Olympians and world champions, so we will continue to support all junior and senior players once they are showing the requisite attitude and discipline toward the sport.”

Five players will represent Jamaica in badminton at the CAC Games. Two females in Mikaylia Haldane and Katherine Wynter and the male trio of Alexander, Ricketts and Henry.

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