Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Henry targets Rio medal

Published:Tuesday | August 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Henry

Shayne Fairman, Gleaner Writer

Badminton sensation Gareth Henry has consistently dominated the sport, locally and regionally. Now, the prolific player is aiming to be the island's first male representative to battle through the rounds and possibly win a medal when he takes the trip to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

"Judging from my last attempt at the Olympics, I did really well to get to 116 in the world rankings after a very late start. "I am more than confident that with my experience now, I can be Jamaica's first successful male representative at badminton."

Henry has represented Jamaica at the World Juniors and Commonwealth Games so far.

"I have been to 19 different international tournaments and six regionally as a senior. I am now ranked 280 in the world and number 2 in the region," he told The Gleaner.

But to qualify for Rio, he needs to start training with top-level players who possess world class pedigree and experience that can help lift his game. There is also the matter of funding, where he'll need financial support to be able to make the all-important trips.

As such, the Jamaica Badminton Association, led by its president, Robert Richards, has charted plans to garner much needed sponsorship and support to improve players like Henry and grow the sport as well.

"We have to improve our players for the big competitions like Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Pan-American, Central and Pan-Am Senior championships," he outlined.

If all goes according to plan, the 24-year-old, who has been playing the sport he loves all his life, will have a shot at his dreams.

"I have been playing since I was eight years old. The Rio Olympics is the tournament of my dreams," outlined Henry.

Henry is also the kind of poster boy the sport needs to encourage new talent and growth locally.

"It's a compliment to be considered a big name here in badminton, but I'm just focused on being the best player I can; whatever accolades come with my performance is just a bonus," he added.

On court, Henry is a bit of a calm, counter-attacking player, yet he uses the element of surprise to sublime effect.

"My opponents often attack me on court, but when they least expect it I go in for the kill when they are either tired from attacking or out of position, even slightly."

GOOD OVERSEAS FAN BASE

He added that he has a good fan base when playing overseas.

"Some people might not expect to see a Jamaican playing badminton as well as I do, so there is always positive feedback."

His biggest achievements include playing at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games, where he advanced to the Round of 16. Henry, however, maintains that he's determined to crack into the senior championships' medal tables, where Rio 2016 provides an opportunity.