Enrique Penalver won the boys’ singles title at the Spanish Junior International as well as two runners-up finishes at the Polish and Portuguese Juniors (both in the boys’ singles).
ALOR SETAR: Older brothers have an uncanny way of influencing your life.
For Spaniard Enrique Penalver, his brother Marco is the one responsible for bringing badminton into his life.
“My brother started playing badminton in school during physical education class and before long, we started playing at home. I was only eight then,” said Enrique, 18, who hasn’t put down the racquet since.
He was here for the World Junior Championships badminton tournament.
Enrique has had a great year so far, bagging the boys’ singles title at the Spanish Junior International as well as two runners-up finishes at the Polish and Portuguese Juniors (both in the boys’ singles). He also won the boys’ doubles title with Javier Suarez at the Italian and Hungarian Juniors.
In fact, brother Marco also turned out for his country, but has since given up the sport. A love for badminton seems to run in the family, as younger sister Sara is also rising fast in the Under-15 ranks.
Born in Toledo, Spain, Enrique and his family moved to Oviedo, home of two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso, where he currently undergoes training and is finishing up his final year of high school.
Enrique along with Sara have also been earmarked by the Spanish Badminton Federation to start training with the national team in Madrid.
With his potential and given Spain’s ability to churn out sporting stars, from tennis king Rafael Nadal to cager Pau Gasol and MotoGP star Marc Marquez, does Enrique hope to be the Nadal of badminton one day?
“I don’t know ... Of course, it’ll be nice. But, it’s not easy,” said Enrique, smiling coyly.
“I’m just trying to play my best badminton now and show my ability. I want to do better every time,” added the big Real Madrid fan.
He has a few more years before he has to choose between the singles and doubles events. Right now he is undecided.
“Enrique’s game is much more suited to singles and he has speed,” said Spain coach Cesar Gonzalez.
For now, he will be happy to win a medal at the World Junior Championships.