Q-and-A: Yankton's Miles Krajewski prepares for the Paris Paralympics

May 4—YANKTON — Miles Krajewski is a senior high school student who is on the Yankton boys' tennis team.

He also is preparing to compete in badminton for Team USA in the 2024 Paralympics Games.

Krajewski locked up his spot on the roster with his mixed doubles partner Jayci Simon on March 31 following a 15-month qualification period. The duo secured the final qualifying spot in the short stature division for mixed doubles, meaning they will compete in both mixed doubles and singles competitions in Paris beginning on Aug. 29.

While this is the first time Krajewski is going to the Paralympics, it's far from his first international event. He's a four-time Para-Badminton World Championship medalist, winning the silver in men's doubles in 2022. Krajewski also won a pair of Pan-American gold medals in 2022 in singles and men's doubles.

Krajewski, 18, recently spoke to the Mitchell Republic about preparing for the Paralympics and playing badminton, with his answers below, edited for clarity:

Q: To the average person who doesn't know a lot about badminton, how would you compare it to tennis?

MK: In badminton, we're playing on a much smaller court. The birdie also travels a lot faster and we are not allowed to let it bounce, so I think it's much harder to play badminton than tennis in my opinion, but others may disagree.

Q: When did you know you wanted to be an international athlete and where has this journey taken you?

MK: I never really knew when I was going to become an international athlete, but I started playing badminton when I was seven years old and just kind of goofed around playing. Then, I started training when I was 10, when about a week before I turned 11, I went to my first international tournament in Northern Ireland.

Even though I got smoked, it was such an amazing experience to go and see how much better all those other athletes are who train full-time. I knew from that moment on, I wanted to become one of them. The most challenging part is going to compete while I have homework to do.

Q: Qualifying for badminton in mixed doubles means you'll also be competing in singles. Do you prefer one over the other?

MK: I prefer both. In mixed doubles, there's another person to help me out in that regard. But then I also prefer singles because it's just me against them and I have to keep my cool out there and do the best I can.

Q: Your doubles partner, Jayci Simon, is from Michigan. What is the dynamic competing with someone who you don't practice a lot with and how do you put it together on match day?

MK: It's tough to compete against people that train full-time together, but we make it work out, training together once or twice per month. Before tournaments, she'll come for about a week or so and train down in Omaha with me, which is nice.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most about competing in Paris and do you have goals you want to obtain?

MK: I'm just ready to take in the experience because it's my dream to finally make the Paralympic team, and I just want to experience the best of it. I'm hoping to medal in both events. Then, I probably want to go see the Eiffel Tower at night and see it sparkle.

Q: How does it feel to be representing Yankton, South Dakota, and Team USA?

MK: It means a lot since my friends, family, teachers, and the community of Yankton has always had my back and has supported me through my ups and downs. It's finally nice to put Yankton, South Dakota, on the map and the world map, along with representing Team USA. It means a lot.

Q: What do you want to say to anybody who has the same dream as you: competing on the world stage?

MK: Just go out, compete, try your hardest, and have fun. The most important thing is to have fun and take in the experience.