Wimbledon badminton ace hails Birmingham Lions AJ Bell NBL title win as ‘biggest achievement’

Wimbledon’s badminton star Toby Penty described his Birmingham Lions side’s maiden AJ Bell National Badminton League title win as one of the greatest moments of his career.

Penty joined the team from MK Badminton last summer and the 23-year-old played an integral part in his side’s journey to the AJ Bell NBL Championship Final against Loughborough Sport at the Barclaycard Arena, in Birmingham, on Sunday.

The former Halliford School pupil beat University of Nottingham Badminton’s Rohan Midha 3-0 in the semi-final before he made it six AJ Bell NBL wins from seven matches in the final.

Loughborough Sport’s Henri Hurskainen was leading 2-0 in the third event before Penty took it to the tie-break and the Birmingham Lions skipper then survived two event points before winning 6-9, 8-9, 9-6, 9-8, 5-3.

And Alida Chen and Sarah Walker showed similar resilience to come from two games down against Lauren Smith and Jenny Wallwork to win their event 3-2 and secure a 3-1 win for Birmingham Lions – landing the title in the process.

Penty said: “What an unbelievable finish! When we went 2-0 down in the women’s, you are almost thinking about the fifth event but they grew through that match and did amazingly and played brilliantly in the final three games.

“This was such a different experience and these sorts of moments define a sport and we need more of them – we need more feel-good factors in badminton.

“This is one of my biggest achievements in the sport. To go from where I was at the start of the AJ Bell NBL to where we are now is unbelievable!”

Birmingham Lions booked their spot in the Championship Final with an impressive 4-1 win over University of Nottingham Badminton, while earlier in the day Loughborough Sport continued their unbeaten run this season with a 3-2 victory against Team Derby.

Penty has reached the finals of international competitions and impressed at last year’s World Championships but England’s No.2 stated the AJ Bell NBL is special to him.

He said: “To win it at home in Birmingham is massive and to come here and win the title in my first year here and as captain means a lot.

“There are other big tournaments you can win in badminton but the AJ Bell NBL has a special place in my heart and to be able to win it means a lot to me.”

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