BIRMINGHAM, England — Five-time National badminton champion Katherine Wynter has welcomed the opportunity being given to the island's top players to compete at the Commonwealth Games and believes it will serve as motivation going forward, but made it clear a lot more needs to be done to really improve the level of the sport in Jamaica.
Jamaica's four-member team in Birmingham has found the going rough in their games so far and Wynter, who pointed out that the team remains far behind the sport's leading teams, is hoping that more support is on the horizon.
The country lost mixed team games against South Africa (2-3) and Malaysia (0-5) before beating Zambia 4-1.
In yesterday's action, Wynter teamed up with Joel Angus to beat the Bajan pair of Maarten King and Tamisha Williams 4-1 (21-12, 21-19) in the mixed doubles round of 64, with Samuel Ricketts beating Australia's Jacob Schueler 2-0 ( 21-19, 21-15) in men's singles round of 64 action, with himself and Tahlia Richardson also getting the better of Falkland Islands' Duane March and Laura Harada 2-0 (21-3, 21-4) in mixed doubles play.
However, Angus fell to Mauritius' Alexandre Bongout 0-2 (9-21, 12-21) in his men's singles round of 64 assignment while Wynter lost her women's singles round of 64 match 0-2 (7-21, 4-21) against Singapore's Khan Insyirah.
"I believe the team has done well so far. We played some really tough teams but we left it all on the court. No one can say that we didn't show heart and fight on the court so I am proud of us. We played against Malaysia who is now in the final of the mixed team events. They have players that are in the top 10 in the world, so the fact that we were able to keep up with the rallies and get the points that we did is phenomenal," said Wynter.
The 26-year-old also competed at the 2018 Games in Gold Coast, Australia, advancing to the round of 16 in the women's singles competition, made it to the round of 32 in the mixed doubles with Samuel Ricketts, and was eliminated in the round of 64 in the women's doubles playing alongside Alana Bailey.
Wynter pointed to a need for better financial support as well as more training and educational opportunities for coaches and support personnel as well as generally more resources being made available to the sport, as necessities for real development in the local badminton programme.
"Jamaica is one of the lower-ranked countries here, as you could see with the line-up in the Malaysia game. They have about 10 players while we only have four. So naturally, our level of play is nowhere near the top-ranked countries," Wynter said.
"To get closer to the best teams in the world there is a lot that needs to be done. I won't sugar-coat it. Our players need to be better supported financially. The top teams are professional players, they are paid to represent and dedicate their time to training. They can afford to train twice a day, every day. We cannot because we also need to earn a living in order to pay for our badminton endeavour," she added.
Still, Wynter is hopeful that the players here will make the most of the opportunity to develop their game and increase their experience while playing on such a high stage.
"I am hoping that it will motivate the younger generation to continue in the sport. Also that the necessary bodies will see that Badminton Jamaica needs a lot more invested in it if we are to not only truly compete with the world's best, but beat them," said Wynter.
— Andre Lowe