My Badminton and Life Blog

My Badminton and Life Blog
Me during a match

Thursday, September 11, 2014

2014 Trinidad and Tobago National Championships

All the winners, runners up, and semifinalists at nationals
So the time came for the Trinidad and Tobago national championships to take place, April 22-27th 2014. Of course I flew down to Trinidad to play in them. I had been in Richmond, Vancouver for almost 2 months at that point training hard so I was prepared to make a statement at nationals. This time I arrived in the country early so that I would have time to train and get use to the conditions as they are very very different that playing anywhere in Canada both shuttle speed and just facility wise too. The practice that we god before nationals was good and got to hit in the actual tournament venue a few times which was nice as it made me get more accustomed with things.

CRISTAR - Nationals venue and my clubs home

I have lots of supporters back home from fellow club mates, training partners, friends, relatives, and fans that were all excited to see me play in nationals. The previous year due to some unfortunate luck in the making of the draw I was put up against the winner of the tournament first round. This time he (Kerwin Pantin) was seeded 2nd in the tournament and I was on the top half with the 1st seed, he would be my 2nd round match. So with all the practice done the time came around for matches to start on Tuesday April 22nd in the night. They played 2 rounds that night and I was lucky enough to get the 1st round to warm up it was a fairly easy game but I took the time to get accustomed with things. The 1st seed didn’t have a first round as he had a bye, so I would be his first round match. So the time came that I would play Allister the first seed and everybody was paying attention to that match it seemed. It was a 3 game match and he played very well but in the end I came out on top and acquired a lot of new supporters because of it.

Giving a TV interview before the awards ceremony
I don’t live in Trinidad, I was born and raised Canadian but my mom was born and grew up in Trinidad and Tobago before moving to Canada. So through her I got my Trinidadian citizenship which allows me to compete for them internationally. Because of this I am not in the country much and just come home for nationals or the odd vacation. This means that the badminton players down there that are not from my club never really get to see me and my abilities until the championships roll around each year. This lead to quite the interesting newspaper headlines for me during the tournament, with each round that I progressed the titles got more and more interesting. I made it all the way to the singles final with some interesting matches on the way there. I went 3 games with the rest of my opponents as well not being able to adjust as quickly to the conditions. Overall things were good though and the players were quite fun to play against. In the semi-final match I played against my fellow club mate who was 2 points away from match point but I came back and won 5 points in a row to close out the game and take the match securing my spot in the finals.

Links to some of the online articles about me (they were also published in the local papers):

I got a day to rest in-between the semifinals and the finals which would take place the Sunday night. I rested up as playing on the courts down there had taken a toll on my body and various parts of me were starting to hurt and be beyond sore. The day of rest did some good though I was able to go out to the zoo with one of my best friends and we had a great day together. That was something that I really needed to keep me grounded and not stressed/anxious. So finals came around and it was in classic finals style. One court, line judges, the full package. The news was there and some VIP’s were also in attendance from sponsors to past players, etc all there to watch the finals. This was not the first tournament final I have been in but this wasn’t just another provincial tournament in Alberta this was my countries nationals. Something that I wanted to win badly but also left me feeling nervous. I was up against the 2nd seed Kerwin Pantin who had 6 national titles in singles behind him already. Last year the scores were decently close and this year things started off with a bang 1st game I lost 19-21 and then it all went downhill from there. My body didn’t like me anymore didn’t want to cooperate with me at all, my mental fall apart and with it so did my game plan. fast forward I actually ended up messing up my inner hip and required about 3 weeks of recovery and rehab to fix it upon returning home. The 2nd set wasn’t a pretty sight and it was pretty much just self-destruction that occurred and got the better of me. Kerwin played fantastic and did what he does, that’s the reason he is the national champion. So once again I had lost to him and would be the runner up at the 2014 Trinidad and Tobago National Championships.

Receiving my prize money and medal 
Mens singles (left to right): Semifinalists, Runner up (Me), Winner
My medal and winnings

That would mark the end of the nationals, I did play doubles and mixed but those unfortunately didn’t turn out as well. I made quarterfinals for both of those events eventually losing to the 1st seeds. The experience was a great one and I am happy that I flew down to Trinidad and played in the championships. I had a great performance and would hope that it would have been enough to warrant my selection onto the commonwealth games team. The event would be happening the end of August in Glasgow, Scotland and was one of the things that I had been training hard for the past 4 years. Commonwealth is a mini Olympics for the Commonwealth countries and therefore something amazing to be able to attend. Flash forward a few months Trinidad unfortunately much to our demise did not send a badminton team to the Commonwealth games. I was heartbroken and most of the other players from Trinidad were also feeling the pain of not getting to go either.

Farewell and victory dinner with my club mates

That was the end of my trip to Trinidad though, short and sweet I really didn’t get to do much else other than see the zoo and hang out a lot with Shannon. Because I made it so far in the tournament I was unable to make a trip to the beach which I am so sad about. The last time I was on the beach and swam in the ocean was May 2013 in Tahiti, French Polynesia while I was there for a tournament. I packed things up and got ready to head back home, but first I would be making a quick stop (3 days) in Calgary before going back to Vancouver and back to training to prepare for upcoming international tournaments; Argentina International and Venezuela International. 

Zoo with Shannon
Shannon, me, and the giraffes 

Saturday, July 26, 2014


So the time had some I finally would be finishing my career as a university student. The end of 2013 saw me finish my final courses needed to obtain my university degrees at the University of Calgary. Almost 6 years in school and I would be walking away with 3 bachelor’s degrees to my name. The journey started right after I graduated high school, I had recently discovered badminton and wanted to pursue it and see what it was all about. This led me to attend Mount Royal College (it was a college at the time) because they had a badminton team. I had not been training or even playing long but knew this is what I wanted to do. That being said studies wise I knew even less about what I wanted to be and choose to go into Computer science, but it was a university transfer program as MRC did not offer university degrees at the time. I had dreams of finishing the 2 year transfer program and then move to another city to finish schooling. Yeah that all fell through and after a semester in computer science I realized that was not the field that I wanted to work in long term. I switched programs and moved into the Kinesiology university transfer then known as the physical education program. Finishing first semester I preceded to take 10 months off from school to move down to Trinidad for 6 of those months when I first started to compete internationally for the country. Unsure if/when I would return to Canada for school. That time came after Christmas when I returned and continued where I had left off at the college in my Kinesiology program. Continuing to play on the badminton team and enjoying the whole experience; times would soon change though. The college was turning into a university, it would not offer university degrees in my field right away though as that would take some time.  So after doing a bit of my degree I took some time off and then went to Trinidad for 6 months, that is when I first started to play badminton internationally for the country. I then took some more time off to travel and train.

MRC Badminton Team Picture
MRU Badminton Team Picture
Upon returning to Canada I finished a half a semester at MRU (it was now a university) and then would head over to University of Calgary (UofC) in the fall semester. When I transferred some stuff happened to my courses and I was unable to directly transfer into a Kinesiology specific program as I had one grade that was a letter grade to low but that’s another story. So upon going to UofC I still had scholarship money left so didn't waste it and decided to do another degree but why do 1 when I could do 2. So I ended up enrolling and doing 2 degrees at once, a geography degree and a communications and culture degree. On top of that I still hadn't finished my Kinesiology degree so I would also be taking some classes to also finish that up too. The interesting part was that in this time I would also start competing for Trinidad full time so I needed to manage school, training, and traveling to tournaments. This would prove more difficult in my final year of studies.

Time passed and I continued to knock out my core courses one by one, taking on average 3-4 courses a semester and when I wasn't traveling to China in the summer then I would take spring and/or summer courses. There seemed like an ever growing list of cores that I needed to complete. As I would complete one then another one would seem to appear out of nowhere. But slowly and surely I knocked them out one by one. With a lot of travel happening as I started to compete more and meant missing more school as well as exams and assignments. My professors in the geography department knew me well as the athlete who traveled and they were all ok with it because I would be able to link the concepts in class to where I went. That and I would always take pictures for them of relevant stuff in the country that I was traveling to relating to the course content so they could use it in their presentations.

My time at the University of Calgary started to come to an end as I was finishing up my courses. In my final year in 2013 all I needed was 10 option courses to complete the rest of my needed credits to graduate. That was what felt like the biggest waste of time because I had already done all my cores and now I just had to take random classes to get my degree, I felt like wasting money but at the same time it allowed me to take some interesting courses I may have never had the opportunity to otherwise. I took film courses (the horror movie, the melodrama, French film), I took “the history of video games” and an art class all about gardens. But I had already used all my available 200 level course and one of the requirements for me degree was that I needed some 300, 400, and 500 level classes. Usually those all require prerequisites which I did not want to have to take more courses to take an option course. The most interesting experience was 1st semester 2013 I took 2 500 level research class’s and for one it was essentially a graduate thesis project that was to be done and presented at the end of the semester. The only problem was that I was heading to New Zealand and Tahiti for almost 3 weeks to compete in tournaments.  So long story short I stayed in a fancy hotel the 1st night in Tahiti and did my part of the presentation via video conference with the beautiful beach and water in the background (at this point there was still snow on the ground in Calgary) so let’s just say a lot of students and teachers who attended the presentation didn't like me too much. Along with that I also wrote 2 finals via the internet during that same night staying in the fancy hotel because I needed a stable and good internet connection. That is probably my fondest and funniest memory from school while traveling.

The resort I stayed at and the backdrop I used during video presentation
2013 summer I also didn't go to Asia to train meaning I took a full course load in both spring and summer. Finally the home stretch the last semester of my undergraduate career had come. I would be attending 2 tournaments both opposite sides of the world and to be honest more emphasis was set on those than actually focusing on school. Not that doing good wasn't a priority it just kind of took the back burner during the tournaments. I attended classes and flew out to Brazil and Macau for a week each. I always felt guilty about traveling when I was working in a group and just had to take off because I felt like I was placing unnecessary worry on the group even though I would always make sure the get my work done and submit it to them by the deadlines.

Then December 2014 rolled around, it had come the last set of finals that I would write. The last time I would grace the University of Calgary halls as a student. It was a feeling that I did not know how to embrace in all honesty. I was a student for so long that it had always just been a part of who I was, a way of life when I wasn't busy being an athlete. But now that was all coming to an end, my student career was going to have its lights shut off. I felt a little more than sad to know that I would be done and wouldn't have to attend classes, study for exams, and write papers anymore. But at the same time it was a nice feeling knowing that I was done and that I had accomplished getting my degrees. I would not get to walk the stage to receive my degree, not that I had any particular desire to sit there for hours while they go through the names waiting for my 20 seconds in the spotlight. I would instead be flying to Argentina the day of my convocation so even if I wanted to attend I simply wouldn't have been able to. And thus ended a chapter that had been ongoing for the greater part of my life, my time as a student in school had come and gone. I accomplished what I needed to and learned a lot, I will always be a student for life in the real world continually learning but as for studying at a learning institution I have graduated. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

2013 Macau Open Grand Prix Gold

So I had returned from Brazil and the next tournament was already selected, Macau Open GPG would be the next and likely last trip for the year. Sujay wanted to play doubles together so we were going to do that, last minute he wasn't sure if he would be able to attend though. Through all the chaos and uncertainty he ended up being able to go but in the intermediate stage I had invited somebody else to accompany me in order to keep the hotel cost down. So this meant that we would be sharing a room and Sujay would be on his own. The day came and it was going to be a long journey but one that I have flown at least 12+ times already. Flying Calgary to Hong Kong and then would have to catch the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau. All in all it was only about 18 hours of traveling which wasn't too bad. This time I would have some wonderful travel company so that was something new minus traveling with Jason in the summer.

The flight to Hong Kong was rather smooth until we approached Hong Kong and were put into a holding pattern due to weather. Eventually we landed and couldn't cut it any closer with just making in time to get our luggage onto the ferry. Once the time came we boarded the high speed ferry which zipped over the darkened bay on route to Macau. Like a scene out of a movie the Las Vegas of Asia grew from a single point of light into a multidimensional city with flashing lights and bright buildings. The waterfront view was amazing and at the same time a welcoming sight that we were finally at our destination. The tournament representative picked us up and drove us to the tournament venue for some odd reason but it was nice to check out the stadium where I would be competing. It was well put together but preparations were not finished at that point. After a short discussion they took us to our hotel, the hotel was quite grand. Nothing compared to the giant casino hotels mind you but still impressive in its own regards. Sujay got in the following morning and we arranged to go have a practice session on the main courts of the hall.

Under the bridge to the Macau ferry terminal
View from the hotel room
After a solid practice session things were looking good, had another day to kill before I would have to play my match against my Malaysian opponent in the main draw. But first before that would happen there was a big event to attend to. The opening ceremony and dinner for the 2013 Macau Open Grand Prig Gold. It was being held at the MGM Grand casino in one of the ball rooms, all the players were in attendance along with some special guests. We boarded the bus and drove off to the MGM where we were greeted with a gigantic ballroom with tables upon tables upon tables. The dinner itself was a 10 course affair. The food just kept on coming as delicious as each dish was evoking unique tastes and building upon the last. The highlight of the night for me at least was the fact that Lee Chong Wei and Taufik Hidayat were in attendance, while they were not playing in the tournament they were there for publicity reasons. I was fortunate enough to get a picture with each of them and exchange a few words when they each asked where Trinidad and Tobago was and other things. It was a legitimate fan girl moment if anything describes it, of course I didn't show it on the outside but on the inside I was happy and was a dream to meet them. Dinner came to an end and we retreated back to our hotels in order to prepare for the start of the tournament the following day.

First round matches came along and I was up against Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin of Malaysia, it was going to be a tough one. I went in there and did my thing playing to my abilities but in the end he was simply a caliber above me and nothing really threatened him. It was a big sign that I needed to change a lot in order to threaten and compete with the big boys. In the past two tournaments (Sao Paolo International and this Macau GPG) I was knocked out by players who were in the top 50 in the world. The thing is that when playing them I couldn't put as much pressure on them as they could on me and when I was able to put pressure on them I couldn't compound it and finish the points. The experience overall was a good one to see what I was lacking. Me and Sujay also played doubles together and had to qualify for the tournament as we didn't have a world ranking. We played against a pair from Hong Kong and for our first time playing together things turned out pretty well actually. Although we lost the match it was a fun time and we may play together in the future who knows.

After the tournament was done there was some time to sight see around Macau. The day after me and Sujay were knocked out of singles we went to one of the stadiums that was built for the Asian games when it was held in Macau. It was massive just beyond the size of anything in Calgary or to stadiums in North America with the exception of some of the Olympic stadiums. That was a good session and got to see the Malaysian team along with Lee Chong Wei practice. 

After that it was time to go sight see, first up on the list were the ruins of St. Paul’s cathedral which proved rather elusive for us to find. After thinking that we were on the right path and following signs we ended up at a fort overlooking the city. The view was amazing and the fact that it was already night meant that the city was already lit up and the hustle of thousands of people was in full swing. So after taking some pictures from up there we ended up spotting the ruins in the distance all lit up and not too far from where we were. The hard part was finding a route to get there through the winding and narrow streets. We went one way but it ended up leading us right in a circle so we tried the “back way” which with all the luck led us right to the ruins. From the ruins it led us back to Seanado square which is a giant shopping and open area in the heart of Macau. This being November meant that yes there were already Christmas decorations set up and the place was feeling and looking like Christmas.

The following day we had to leave Macau back to Hong Kong to spend the night there and then catch our flight back to Calgary the following day. So morning came we did our final preparations and ate the last meal in Macau not to mention all had a farewell drink in the hotel lounge before leaving to the ferry terminal. Boarded the ferry and set off on the voyage back but there was some rough waters and a little bit of delays. We arrived and headed off to the airport hotel just for convenience sake so that we wouldn't have to travel early the next day to catch our flight. Once checked in and all fueled up the trek down to the harbor to see the lights started. It didn't take long and was a nice bus ride there. Thankfully it wasn't too cold outside but still warranted needing a light jacket, compared to Canada where there was snow on the ground. The harbor lights were great as always and drew in a huge crowd not to one’s surprise. After spending some time there and taking in the sights we walked around a bit and enjoyed the sights then proceeded to catch our bus back to the hotel for the night. Once back the rest of the night consisted of me finishing off school assignments as it would be my final semester and I had already taken time off the month before to go to Brazil for a tournament.

The day of departure came quick and once again we were in the airport catching our flight. After checking in the usual activities occurred and headed off to the lounge to relax and eat. Jivanya hadn't spent much time in the lounges at airports that are available for the elite travelers so this was a fun experience for her and she took full advantage of it enjoying all the amenities available. We stayed in the lounge the whole time and then only headed out to the gate a little before boarding checking through a few shops before that. The flight heading back to Canada was rather full and while heading to Hong Kong we had a row of 3 seats all to ourselves this time somebody else was also in the row with us. After boarding the flight I pretty much passed out only waking up to eat for the first half of the flight, while watching movies for the second half.

Overall it was a learning experience, playing players in the top 50 makes me realize how big of a gap there is. Even playing players in the top 100 or 200 the difference in their skill and strategic play is very noticeable. Macau would be my last international for the year but I didn't know it at the time. I was going to try and fit one more into the schedule and that would have been the Puerto Rico international but stupid me I didn't sign up and it ended up being a great tournament to attend points wise. With that being said this was my last semester of university I had finished all my core courses and was just taking options to finish off my degree. Heading back to Canada the end of November from Asia meant that finals were coming up soon and I would need to study for those as well as finish projects that I had missed and assignments that were due. I would be looking forward to graduating and finally being done with school to pursue work and badminton as full time now. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Badminton Interview

Here is the video of a recent interview that was done about me and my Olympic dreams as an international badminton player and as a coach. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Reporters website:

Friday, February 21, 2014

2013 Brazil international challenge

Summer saw me play quite a few international tournaments bringing the total for the year up to 5. For august and September though I didn't play any just kept training hard and working on what I needed to. Then October rolled around and that saw me entered into the Brazil international challenge in Sao Paulo. I was pretty excited to head down south for the tournament as it was a while since I went to south America. The trip was once again in the middle of my school semester. This was however my last semester and I was in the process of completing my final 4 classes all of which were senior level (1 300 level, 2 400 level, and 1 500 level) options. So once again I would be missing about a week of school in the pursuit of badminton. So I booked my flights and told my professors I'd be gone, they were all very understanding and wishing me the best of luck. Told my group members that I would be gone those weeks and they said we would figure things out which I felt bad about because the group would end up doing a little more work in my absence.

The time came to head down to Brazil and that morning it had yet to set in that I would be flying all the way down to South America. The year had already been so eventful in terms of countries visited that to travel again was and is just a normal part of life right now. I boarded the flight to Toronto and finally when I got onto the plane in Toronto did I get my first tingle of excitement that soon id be in another country after a 11 hour flight. Everything finally sunk in when I arrived in Sao Paulo and was being driven from the airport to the hotel. That same surreal feeling of just 15 hours ago I was in Calgary and now I'm on the opposite side of the earth in the southern hemisphere. I and my friend Howard Shu of the USA were sharing a hotel for the tournament. Another friend Sujay Karve of USA was also there and staying at a hostel. There were many friends that I had playing this tournament as well I made a lot of new ones too.

Our pad for the week

All the beds in Brazil are super small
So upon getting there me and Sujay went to the tournament hall to get in some practice, Howard would be arriving the following day. The hall wasn't bad, classic stadium look. This time though it was located in a club called Club Athlético Paulistano which is the most expensive and exclusive private club in Sao Paulo. The Glencoe club where I train in Calgary is nothing compared to this place in Brazil. We got in a good hit and some singles games as well as played some doubles with other players. That was the moment me and Sujay said that if we attend tournaments together we will play doubles as a partnership for more matches but also to see what we can do. The tournament didn't start for another day so the following day went back to the hall to practice yet again this time had some matches with players from chili and the Belgium seeded player. They were all really nice and got in a good amount of practice that I felt good.

Tournament Hall
Matches underway
So the tournament day rolled around and started with qualification, thankfully my world ranking was high enough that I didn't have to qualify. Sujay on the other hand wasn't so lucky and had to qualify and unfortunately lost his first match. My turn came and I had to play one of the junior players. For some reason I was a little nervous during the match. I lost the first game 18-21 after being down a huge amount from making a lot of unforced errors early in the game. But come the 2nd game I felt more comfortable and figured out how to play. The score was still really close at me winning 23-21. Then came the third game and that's where I just ran away with it. I had a big lead and he made a brief comeback but I felt a lot better playing at that time and closed it out 21-18. I also had the help of Matthew Forgety who coached me during the 2nd and part of the 3rd game as well, he helped to calm me and to focus. So I had won my 1st round at the tournament and with that came a nice set of world ranking points too. My next round wouldn't be an easy one and consisted of the 1st seed Sattawat Pongnairat of the USA. 

That night we went exploring a little bit walking out to the main Avenue and browsing around a mall there to see what they had. The location was nice and got to see some cool things. There was a gigantic radio tower which was covered with lights and could be seen miles away, luckily it was super close to where we were walking and got to check it out along with some interesting graffiti that was painted on an underpass.

This place was packed to eat at
Some of the tons of graffiti around the city
Some of the tons of graffiti around the city
Antenna tower lit up
It felt great to win a match at a tournament again since the last one I had won was back in Tahiti. The next morning rolled around and I played my match against Sattawat, which was a tough one. He was hands down more powerful than me and more explosive, I fought hard and was able to keep up and put him under pressure but couldn't finish the rallies so that was my ultimate downfall. It was great to play him and overall I was happy with the experience, he beat me 21-7, 21-7. So I had been knocked out if the tournament and had just that day and the following day before flying back to Canada and school which I had once again taken time off for.

After my match I went exploring and ventured over to a large park in the city, it was a wonderful location with museums and lots of flora/fauna around. Some monuments were present and the walk over was a nice one although at times the weather was not looking the most pleasant it luckily didn't rain on me while I was out. After exploring went to my favorite sandwich shop and grabbed lunch. The street that our hotel was on consisted of the ritzy shopping area which had all the expensive boutiques around so there was always people walking the street shopping, not to mention a great amount of eye candy haha. 
Awesome huge monument

Awesome Fountain 

View of the city from the park
So that night I and Sujay decided to go out for a night on the town because I left the following day, and that's where the real adventure starts. We started by going down their main Avenue and were looking for a bar or club to go out to and celebrate. We found nothing there and we were about to give up then came across a Starbucks and decided to go in and ask somebody if they knew a place. The barista there told us about some places and one of the names of the club was "Gloria" that's the 1st hint, turns out that was a gay club and we got the hell out of there as quick as we could. Down the street from that was an actual club with great music and a fun environment so we spent the night there partying with the locals. Made some friends with the few girls that spoke a large amount of English and had a fun night overall. We finished partying around 5am and made our way back to the hotel.

The actual club that we went to which was awesome
This was my final day in Sao Paulo and my flight back to Canada and Calgary would depart at 7pm that night. So I got up around 10 and finished packing what little things needed to be, checked out and put my bags in storage as my ride to the airport wasn't till 3pm. So I walked around and had some lunch, did some shopping and then finally Sujay woke up (he was staying at a different hotel) so we met up and grabbed a late lunch. Over lunch we talked about another tournament for the year and started looking into planning for Macau Open grand prix gold tournament in November. I got dropped off at the airport and then had some time to kill in the lounge. My trip to Sao Paulo had come to an end and I was satisfied with the experience winning a match then played 1st seed.

Heading home would be a long flight but an upgrade to executive class would make things more bearable. After the long ordeal I arrived back in Calgary and had to finish off some school work before returning to class Monday morning. Overall it was worth the trip down south and I can't wait to return to Brazil again in the future. 

Panorama of the lake and the city in the background, beautiful place