EMSWORTH badminton star Panuga Riou insists she can’t wait to get going after she missed last season’s National Badminton League through injury.
The 23-year-old endured a frustrating campaign as she was unable to help University of Nottingham progress to the final of last season’s NBL campaign after they went down 3-2 in the play-offs to eventual winners Team Derby.
“I was out injured last season so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in this time around. I went to watch last year and it was really exciting and it was fun so it should be good.
This term, however, things are different with Riou back from injury and set to feature when her side open their campaign against Loughborough Sport on November 2. And she says she can’t wait to get on court and finally sample life as an NBL player.
“I’m really looking forward to the NBL starting,” she said. “I was out injured last season so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in this time around. I went to watch last year and it was really exciting and it was fun so it should be good.
“I had an anterior cruciate ligament injury so I was out for the whole season pretty much. That was really bad. It was my first big, big injury so mentally it was hard.
“But I’m glad I’m back and able to compete again. I probably didn’t get back on the court for about five or six months – I had to do it gradually over a period of time. But I’m back now.
“I’ve been training and really focusing on my knee, just strengthening it again. It’s more mental as well. I’m lucky to be here and have physio and strength and conditioning support.
“They wouldn’t let me go back on court if they knew I wasn’t strong enough. For me, it’s just mental now.”
It was a difficult time for Riou but she says she learned a lot from the time on the sidelines and believes her form so far this season is evidence she is back to her best.
“It’s tough being on the sidelines,” she added. “Being based at Milton Keynes as well, I can see everyone train and compete and going to tournaments and I’m just doing my rehab day in day out. It’s been tough but I’m glad I’ve come through it and I’m back now.
“I’ve already played in two tournaments already so I’ve got one more and then the NBL season starts. I made two quarter-finals, that was good for me. I think the main thing is for my knee to be OK and to compete well. It’s good so far. Those quarter-finals were in the singles.”
n For NBL fixtures, tickets and team news visit nationalbadmintonleague.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @NBL_official
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