Top players aiming to boost international rankings. Henry sets sights on medal
Shayne Fairman, Gleaner Writer
National men's champion Gareth Henry is confident of securing valuable points from participating in the Pan American Senior Badminton Championships, scheduled to run from tomorrow to Sunday in Toronto, Canada, where he will lead a small contingent of Jamaicans into competition.
"I am ranked about 15th in the Pan Am region and 306th worldwide," he pointed out.
Henry is Jamaica's most capped player and was ranked 116th in 2014, but had fallen due to an inability to compete in international tournaments owing to a lack of funding.
"I have the experience, quality and competitive edge to win and gain points in Canada," said the player, who will create history if he succeeds in qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
He would become the first Jamaican to play in an Olympics. But first, he has to earn qualification points by winning games in preliminary competitions.
Henry points out that his confidence is high at the moment, given the experience gained from the Commonwealth Games.
"I am hoping to win four straight games and go to the semi-final stage and medal. I just need some court time to practise then I will be at my best," he underlined.
While Henry's qualification to the Rio Olympics will be a long and challenging process, the player admits he is ready.
"I am aiming for at least 1,000 qualification points in every tournament. I will give every game my best," he concluded.
Other players who will be seeking qualification points at the PanAm Championship are Samuel Ricketts, currently ranked 447th in the world, who will also seek to improve his ranking; Charles Pyne, who is now a resident of Canada; Matthew Lee, aged 17, who will be looking to debut and gain experience at the international level, while the lone female, Geordine Henry, will partner brother Gareth in mixed doubles competition.
Robert Richards, president of the Jamaica Badminton Federation, told The Gleaner that it will be beneficial to send the players.
"It is important for them to be ranked in the top-120 players so they can attain more points in order to play in higher graded tournaments," he explained.