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Grassroots to Glort - Jack Shephard

Grassroots to Glort - Jack Shephard

Jack Shephard. Credit - Imagecomms
Jack Shephard. Credit - Imagecomms
Jack Shephard. Credit - Imagecomms

Jack who competed at the World Dwarf Games when watching Ellie win gold in 2008, has seen his own rapid rise coincide with a big bang moment for his sport. The para-badminton and non-disabled World Championships were held in parallel for the first time in 2019 and a growth in international competition saw it added for Tokyo 2020. 

Jack is the dominant force in SH6, winning back-to-back world titles in 2017 and 2019, and European gold in 2018. He's ranked world No.1 for a reason.   He will have a target on his back in Tokyo but whether he truly feels it or not, still plays with the spirit of an outsider. 

"I can put my hands up and say in qualifying year, I didn't win every tournament," he said. 
"There are other players in the category now and it's so strong, there are so many guys to keep fighting.   Although I'm still ranked world number one, I've spent most of my career trying to climb. I still keep that same mindset that I'm not at the top, I've got to work harder than the person alongside me, my closest rivals and competitors, to beat them.   I always try to play them as if I'm in the underdog, mentally, so I can perform well when I'm out there because I've been in that position for so long."  

One of his's closest rivals will be fellow Brit Krysten Coombs, ranked No.5 in the world, with the pair playing in the final of the 2017 World Championships.   Coombs didn't qualify automatically with Jack ahead of him, but has been given a place at the Paralympics after a bipartite application came down in his favour. 

Jack has always known - like the person who listened to the band before they were big - but the world is about to find out how good para-badminton really is.  They will step into his universe, a world where anything is possible, one that has given him a shot at a place in the stars alongside Ellie. 

"I knew that when I was younger I always wanted to go to a Paralympics, but the sport that I fell in love with wasn't a Paralympic sport at the time," he said. 
"When the two of them came together, it felt like it was meant to be and I started working harder of achieving a dream of going to the Games in a sport I'd always loved." 

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen

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