Monday, July 29, 2013

June & July 2013

It's been a while since I blogged, but I will try to highlight what has happened since the end of May, as I have competed in the the Ottawa International, US Open, and Canada Open, in addition to finishing my summer courses at UBC and recently finishing my NCCP modules. It's been pretty hectic somewhat, but it's been quite a productive 2 months, and I've also just finished coaching a badminton camp in Prince George, a smaller town in the northern part of the province for a week. Things have been productive, albeit tiring, but no matter what happens, life continues, and I suppose it is a conscious decision whether we want to participate or not. We always have a choice to be defeated or to carry on.

Sitting with Coach Darryl Yung at the Canada Open
(Source: jyeung via BadmintonCentral.com)

Ottawa International came as a relief, as I had to write both of my summer courses' finals early to play in the tournament. I also took a red eye flight to get there, so that took a toll on my energy levels as well. However, it was nice to get to meet and eventually play against Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork of England, formerly a top English mixed pair, with Nathan getting an Olympic silver medal in 2004 and winning the 2006 World Championships.

2013 Ottawa International at Carelton University
(Source: Me)
The tournament itself ran pretty smooth and I was able to stay at the Carleton University dorms. It was my first tournament playing with Alex Bruce and although there were some kinks to work through, I think we did pretty well overall and made it to the final before losing to Nathan and Jenny. It really made a difference playing a stronger team, as there were things we may have gotten away with against weaker teams. Defensively, we were a little weak as well. Overall, it was a good start to the partnership and a solid result.

(Source: Badminton Canada)
US Open was more of a vacation somewhat, as I did not find a mixed partner because Alex was competing at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Russia for the Canadian team. My girlfriend Carmen also came down, and one of my students, Jiwoo, also came down as well to watch the competition. Unfortunately, I didn't last too long in the tournament as I lost to a Chinese pair in the qualifying draw for MD, and to Arvind Bhat of India in the MS, all in the same day. Though it was disappointing to lose so quickly in the tournament, I felt my performance wasn't actually too bad. Nothing like drowning out your sorrows with T.G.I.Fridays happy hour, with half priced appetizers.

Carmen getting started on the appetizers!
(Source: Me)
The rest of the week was some light training, watching Despicable Me 2, visiting Newport Beach, and lots of eating and shopping with Carmen. Also, we went for dinner as it was Christin Tsai AND Kevin Li's birthdays, on free slurpee day ("7-11" i.e. July 11) so it was a pretty good week, at least to mentally relax a bit from badminton. As the tournament came to a close and we returned to Vancouver, we had to increase our preparations for the Canada Open.

(Source: Me)
Starting Sunday night before the Canada Open began, we had a massive group training with a lot of other Canadian players at ClearOneBadminton Center. It was really nice to have everyone training in a group together, and though it was pretty much a once a year thing, it almost felt like we were part of a national training program. The next couple days I practiced at the Richmond Oval with Alex and we were as ready as we could be to play, as we would be playing against a Chinese team who had reached the final of the US Open, just a few days earlier.

Nice to see Kim Dong Moon back in Canada for a visit,
even though he was working with different athletes!

When it came time for the match, I wasn't nervous, or at least I don't remember it to be that way. As the match progressed, I wanted to win, but not as badly as I wanted to before. I know it was a new partnership, so perhaps I didn't have such high expectations for us to earn results. I suppose my expectations grew as the length of my former partnership grew as well, and because of that, there was always that will to win, or at least that expectation that I should be doing better. However, I could finally escape that feeling and I simply... played. To my surprise, we did fairly well and even managed to escape a match point and took the 2nd set against China. Despite trailing quite a bit in the 3rd, we came back again and barely scraped by at the end, but we won. I really couldn't believe it... but maybe there was some luck involved. Regardless, we came out on top, and I will definitely cherish the win.

(Source: jyeung via BadmintonCentral.com)

(Source: jyeung via BadmintonCentral.com)
Unfortunately, the draw wasn't very favourable, and we had to play against Hong Kong, the team that WON the US Open in the quarterfinals. We came out fairly strong (although I found us quite lucky that first set) and almost managed to take the first set. Unfortunately, luck and everything else seemed to run out in the 2nd, and that's where we ended our run. Hong Kong ended up taking the title, although they had a pretty good match against Thailand in the semi-final. The tournament went pretty well overall, except that I had to do a drug test after my match against China, and the other 'incident' that happened in the final. Stuff happens, bystander effect, outcome biases, etc... I'm really tired of hearing about what happened, as I was there to see it unfold in person. As it really seemed like a major personal issue between the two players, I think I will leave it at that. It's not my business to learn or gossip or guess what they were fighting about. I'm just glad it is over and I hope things will move on peacefully. However, I really don't like it when people compare the incident to hockey or boxing, because it wasn't. It was a real fight: short and unglamourous. There are no rules. So unless hockey players attack each other with sticks or skates, or if boxing allows kicking people on the ground, then maybe it's similar. Otherwise, let's not make substitutions to un-similar things.

(Source: jyeung via BadmintonCentral.com)
After the tournament, I had another day to train with Alex and tried to work out some things for the next time. The session went pretty well, so it will be nice to see how things go the next time we play together. The Tuesday after the Canada Open, I was flown to Prince George, a small town in northern British Columbia, to coach a camp for the week. It was a pretty cool experience overall, although it was quite tiring, coaching 8 hours a day on Wednesday to Saturday, and another 6 hours on Sunday before flying home. I went up with Phyllis Chan, but Christin Tsai and Derrick Ng joined us for Thursday night and Friday, where we did an exhibition. We each played 3 matches, but it was pretty good fun and I think we did pretty well. Perhaps someone who recorded it might post up the final rally for the night, which involves multiple dives from Christin and Derrick, trying to save a match point! Special thanks goes to Lisa Davidson and her family (Kevin, Jarin, and Jon) for hosting us at their beautiful lakeside house, and even taking us out on their boat and giving us a chance to water ski, although only Phyllis made the attempt. It was a good learning experience for myself as well, and it was nice to see so many people watch us play the exhibition and come out for the camp!

(Source: Me)
Now, it’s time to prepare for a month of off-season training, as I will be planning out a running and strength training schedule. I’m also doing a CPR/AED course at St. John Ambulance later this week, and will be studying for a couple of National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) exams. As I will not be attending the World Championships this year, I hope you will follow Michelle Li (WS) and Derrick Ng/Adrian Liu (MD), as they will be the only ones representing Canada!

Thanks for visiting! Until next time!