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, from Emsworth, endured a frustrating time.
I was out injured last season so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in this time aroundPanuga Riou
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.
This term, however, things are different, with Riou back from injury and set to feature when her side start with a match against Loughborough Sport on November 2.
She can’t wait to get on court to 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 ACL injury so I was out for the whole season pretty much. 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 difficult for Riou but she learned a lot from the time on the sidelines and believes her form so far this season is good.
‘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.’
For NBL fixtures, tickets and team news visit nationalbadmintonleague.co.uk or follow on Twitter @NBL_official.
– Pippa Field