The Anders Foundation recently helped Owen Kilburn purchase a new sports wheelchair.
Owen is a 24 year old Nottingham Trent University Student and has played wheelchair Badminton for 9 years and is now a player who represents England in Para-Badminton.
I was placed into group D of the WH1 mens singles and I started the tournament off strong with a convincing 21 – 13, 21 – 7 win over Pascal Barrillon of France and I felt sharp and confident.
The next match saw me up against the number 4 seed from Russia, Pavel Popov. I knew this would be a tough game for me but managed to stay in the game and never went behind up to 16 all where it was at this point I disappointingly conceded 5 straight points to lose the game 16 – 21. I went ahead 11 – 9 at the interval of the second game to then only get another 3 points for the remainder and lose 14 – 21.
Despite losing I was able to advance past the group stage as runner-up of group D and into the last 16 where I faced India’s Prem Kule Ale. The first game was another close encounter up to the interval where again my opponent slipped away in the latter stages and they won 21 – 13. The second game was one of the most disappointing ones I had played all weekend. I turned up the intensity and found the form and sharpness I had from my very first match and had a commanding 18 – 12 lead and looked like I was sure to take the match to a 3rd game. Unfortunately my performance took a sudden drop and before I knew it I had lost the game 19 – 21. I was eliminated from the mens singles and I was gutted for letting a good opportunity slip away.
The 2nd day was the start of the men’s doubles and was in group C seeded 3rd being teamed up with Ho Yuen Chan from Hong Kong.
With the disappointment of the evening before still fresh in my mind the first doubles match was an extremely shakey performance, especially coming up against Prem Kumar Ale again with his Indian team mate Suresh Kumar Karki. I managed to get revenge on Prem for my Singles as we won 21-16, 21-19.
Pascal Barrillon was then my opponent again teaming up with his French compatriot Sebastien Martin. My performance still wasn’t great but we took the first game 21-16. The second set I finally managed to regain my focus and relax and we won the second game with a comfortable score of 21-10.
The final game of group C we came up against the Russian Pair of Pavel Popov and Yuri Stepanov. Here I had another opportunity to get revenge on a player I had lost to the day before. We were ahead 16-11 in the first game. However, I had a repeat of my match with Prem Kumar Ale, letting a good lead slip again and losing 18-21. A wave of thoughts were running through my head. The second game was very close for the majority and the Russians continued to isolate me keeping the shuttle away from my partner. Then something just ‘clicked’. I suddenly relaxed again and we took the second game 21-16 and then cruised to a 21-10 win in the final game.
With all games won we topped group C and advanced to the quarter finals.
The last match of the day we played another French pair; Stephen Durand and Francois Nalborczyk. This saw my best performance throughout the whole day and we cruised to a 21-10, 21-11 victory booking a place in the semi-final the next day.
In the men’s doubles semi-final I played fellow England team mates and 2nd seeds Martin Rooke and Connor Dua-Harper who were heavy favourites. This match proved to be another level up and although I felt I played well, they were just too good and defeated us easily 2-21, 10-21.
Overall despite there being a few disappointing performances I’m very happy to come away with my second medal in a BWF sanctioned International competition. I will learn and build from these experiences and aim to achieve more good results at the Irish International in June.
Owen writes: "I have just competed in the 4 Nations Para-Badminton Championships in Scotland where, despite not being 100% fit, I managed to reach the semi final in the wheelchair mens singles losing to the eventual winner and England team mate Connor Dua-Harper 5 - 21, 15 - 21.
In the mens doubles my partner withdrew from the tournament a couple days before due to illness, so unfortunately I didn't get to play mens doubles and we were certainly one of the favourites.
In the mixed doubles I teamed up with Fiona Christie of Scotland for the first time. We reached the final and though I was disappointed with my own personal performance, feeling exhausted and still unwell from illness, we grinded out a win to take Gold in the mixed doubles winning in 3 games 18-21, 21 - 14, 21-19 against fellow English pair Denny Vettom and Sharon Jones-Barnes.
The new chair has definitely helped my game a lot. It was just so unfortunate that I was ill and my fitness over the weekend was terrible because of it so I wasn't playing and using it to full capacity and intensity."
Congratulations to Owen from The Anders Foundation.