NewsPara BadmintonMiles KrajewskiJayci Simon

Long Trips To Omaha Led Badminton Star Miles Krajewski To The Paris Paralympics

by Joanne C. Gerstner

Miles Krajewski competes in the men's singles Para badminton event during the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023 on Nov. 25, 2023 in Santiago, Chile. (Photo by Mark Reis)

Miles Krajewski, one of the world’s top SH6 Para-badminton players, has prepared for this life-changing moment for nearly five years.

He’s aced the talent and drive part. The patience element took longer than he wanted to develop. Krajewski, a native of Yankton, South Dakota, just missed being part of the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. He took a long time to shake off that moment of disappointment.

But Krajewski’s wait to be part of Team USA is now over. He’s qualified for the Paralympic Games Paris 2024 in mixed doubles with partner Jayci Simon. He will also compete in singles.

“I can’t lie and say that not being part of Tokyo wasn’t something I had to get over and learn how to refocus from,” said Krajewski, who was born with achondroplasia, which is the most common form of dwarfism. “I knew I needed to look forward, and that’s when I knew I had to be really dialed in about Paris.

“I was going to get on Team USA, and I was not going to stop until I did it. I’ve been committed for a long time to this.”

Krajewski, 18, is a high school senior on the verge of graduation. After he’s done, he either will move for the summer to his training base in Omaha, Nebraska, or get together with Simon to train intensively. This summer before college will be solely focused on training and conditioning for Paris.

His usual training schedule centers around school, playing varsity tennis with his brother Harrison, and living a normal teen social life. It’s a struggle to balance as he spends weekends in Omaha to train. His parents drive him three hours each way.

He does homework in the car, trying to make each moment on and off the court productive. His results reveal the hard work, as he won two golds (men’s singles and mixed doubles) at the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023, as well as two bronzes (men’s doubles and mixed doubles) at the 2024 world championships in Pattaya, Thailand.

Miles Krajewski competes in the men's singles Para badminton event during the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023 on Nov. 25, 2023 in Santiago, Chile. (Photo by Mark Reis)

As of April 2024, he’s globally ranked first in doubles with recurring partner Vitor Tavares of Brazil, and seventh in singles.

“I think I have gotten stronger in a lot of ways since a few years ago, just because I am older,” he said. “I am thinking about strategy a lot, making sure my footwork is strong, and really pushing myself to be better in everything I do. I also feel mentally stronger. I’m able to work through stress better than before.”

Krajewski said one of the challenges in being a dwarf in the sport is optimizing his reach and footwork. His achondroplasia leads to bowed legs and an altered hip alignment. He views speed as one of his assets, using his strong hand-eye coordination to its max. Krajewski has always been a successful multi-sport athlete, which he credits to his all-around abilities.

His upcoming pairing with Simon is a comfortable match, as the pair have known each other for years. They met through the World Dwarf Games about six years ago, with Simon’s athletic ability standing out to Krajewski. Their successful pairing works well because they are grounded in a good friendship.

“It’s just fun playing with her, and no matter what happens, we know we’re going to give it everything out there,” he said. “She’s an amazing athlete and a great competitor.”

Krajewski wants to make his Paris Paralympics experience a big memory in every way. He wants to see the sights with his family, take part in the Opening Ceremony, and hopefully, get on the podium for a medal or two. No matter what happens, he said he feels confident because he has driven himself to get to this achievement.

“I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself for a gold medal, but that is something I think I can accomplish; I am going to aim to be my best,” he said. “This is about being in the moment and going for it.

“I’ve been working for this, and I think everything that I have been through, and my training is going to have me prepared for it.”

Joanne C. Gerstner is a veteran sports journalist and book author, with a focus on Olympic and Paralympic sports. She has written for since 2009 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Miles Krajewski celebrates winning gold in men's Para badminton singles during the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023 on Nov. 26, 2023 in Santiago, Chile. (Photo by Mark Reis)