Abhinav Manota and Oliver Leydon-Davis - in pursuit of the Olympic dream

The men’s singles champion from the VICTOR Oceania Championships 2018, Abhinav Manota, and one half of the partnership which took the mixed doubles title in 2013 at the same event, Oliver Leydon-Davis, have paired up in pursuit of a men’s doubles spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

As the Olympic-qualifying period approaches, players are looking to get a head start by competing in the tournaments to boost their ranking while strengthening partnerships and increasing experience on the world stage.

In one months’ time, the BARFOOT & THOMSON New Zealand Open 2019 will be the first event to kick start the Olympic qualification process, where the pair will be competing. However, instead of remaining in New Zealand and competing in the region’s tournaments in the build up to the event, the pair have travelled to Europe to train and travel.

We caught up with the players to hear about their motives:

What inspired the trip to train and compete in Europe?

“Oliver and I are training together to build our partnership on court and get some different sparring experience ahead of the BARFOOT & THOMSON New Zealand Open 2019. We will also be comepting in 3 tournaments around Europe.” - Manota

“Mani has come over for 3 tournaments, with the goals being to boost our ranking before the Olympic qualifying period starts and also to develop our partnership together in training.” – Leydon-Davis

What drove you to do this in Europe as opposed to the more local tournaments?

“The reason why we have chosen to play these tournaments is because Oliver is based in Denmark, where he is regular player on the Badminton Europe Elite circuit. This was a great chance to get some practice together, especially against pairs that we don't usually get the chance to play with. Therefore, it is a good opportunity for me to come out here and build our partnership together on court.” – Manota

What are you currently working towards in badminton?

“Both Oliver and I have a dream to represent the country in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Since it’s a new partnership, we both need to play as many tournaments as we can to earn BWF ranking points and also, to get variations in sparring so we can be ready to represent our country.” – Manota

“We're working mostly towards developing our game plans as a pair and building on how we play best together.” – Leydon-Davis.

The pair will be competing at the YONEX Polish Open 2019, Finnish Open and the 20th VICTOR Dutch International 2019 over the next three weeks – a combination of BWF International Challenge and International Series events – you can follow their progress on Tournament Software.


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