Shephard crowned world champion on medal-filled day for GB para badminton stars
Becoming world champion is the goal every athlete sets and para badminton star Jack Shephard can now finally say he is the best on the planet.
Shephard defeated English teammate Krysten Coombs to win the SS6 men's singles world title in Ulsan, Korea, coming from a game behind to triumph 10-21 21-19 23-21.
At the last edition of the World Championships, in Stoke Mandeville two years ago, Shephard and Coombs both won bronze, and with para badminton set to make its Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020, they couldn't have asked for better timing to move up the podium places.
Their singles medals weren't the only silverware they picked up on finals day, however, also winning silver in the SS6 men's doubles.
The pair missed out on gold as they went down in three games to Hong Kong's Chu Man Kai and Wong Chun Yim, unable to defend the title they won in 2015.
But for Shephard, his success in Asia proved the realisation of a childhood dream.
"Becoming world men’s singles champion was a dream of mine at the age of 14," said Shephard.
"After major surgery and years of hard work it’s incredible to think I can now say I’m world champion!"
Plenty more medals followed for Britain's para badminton stars, with Rachel Choong successfully defending all three of her SS6 titles from two years ago.
Alongside Andrew Martin, Choong first won mixed doubles gold, defeating Fabien Morat and English teammate Rebecca Bedford 21-9 21-6.
And it was another easy victory in the women's singles as she prevailed 21-15 21-7 over Peru's Carmen Giuliana Poveda Flores, before wrapping up the hat-trick of titles in the women's doubles with Bedford, triumphing 21-5 21-8 against Maria Bartusz and Emma Farnham of Poland and Ireland, respectively.
"It was an amazing day," said head coach Rich Morris.
"Watching the team succeed on the big stage made me a very proud coach.
"I know the amount of time, effort and cash that has been put into badminton from these players and to see them reach their goals was perfect."