Spotlight: Toby Penty | Badminton England

GB badminton player Toby Penty hasn’t let hair loss stop him from achieving his Olympic dream.

The 28-year-old from Walton-on-Thames was diagnosed after his mother noticed a small bald spot on his head in November 2018, but he bounced back and is now on the seven-man GB badminton team in Tokyo 2020.

He finished 23rd in the BWF Rankings Tokyo race despite having to overcome the hurdle in the middle of the Olympics and said his selection, along with his prospect of an Olympic appearance, made overcoming the hurdle even sweeter.

“It means a lot because I’ve been dealing with that during the entire Olympic qualifying period, so trying to deal with both things at once has been a huge struggle,” Benti said.

“The first five months of it were kind of OK because it was still a transitional period, but after that it was really hard, but now I’m at the point where I feel more satisfied with myself.

“I feel happier with myself than I ever did during qualifying for the Olympics and over the past few years, it kind of makes it so worthwhile to fight that fight.

“You got to the other side of it and to culminate that by going to the Olympics is really cool.”

Benti stressed that vixen is not something he will affect on the badminton court in Tokyo.

He said: “I’ve felt the effects on the court for a while too, but I feel like I’ve worked hard to get through that in so many different ways, and it’s not something that affects me that much on a daily basis anymore.

“I have a weird moment where you think about her, you think about her, but I feel like a growing version of myself and it’s just a part of me that I’ve become more valued than anything else.

“I feel my empathy for others, for myself is much greater. It’s an advantage I’m glad I was able to have, the past year and time off court has been really big for me.”

“I needed that space I think because before that, I went through the fox, I went through Olympic qualification, it was very intense and it was nice to be able to take a step back.

“Being able to grow and get through that was really important to me looking back and it wasn’t great that this had a pandemic, but at the same time I’m thankful that I got that space.”

Heading to the Japanese capital behind four BWF International Challenge titles, Benti is confident about his performances in Tokyo.

He said: “I’ve been struggling with a knee injury all year long but in terms of where I am at the moment I feel good about my game.

“I couldn’t judge myself against the level of the championship, but I feel like what I get from myself every day is really good and really positive.

“I think I’m ready to go out and play at my highest level, I want to go out and compete against the top players and see how far I can go.”

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