My Badminton and Life Blog

My Badminton and Life Blog

Monday, May 16, 2016

2015 USA International Challenge



The year was coming to an end as it was December already. Christmas decorations were up in the malls and snow was on the ground, or at least there should have been more snow. Calgary was having an abnormally warm and snowless winter which isn’t out of the ordinary. But it was time for me to fly off again and for the first time this year to go to two tournaments back to back. Every trip I had taken so far had been to just one tournament, nothing back to back. These two would be a lot closer to home though, both taking place to our neighbour to the south in the USA. First up would be the 2015 USA international Challenge in Orlando, Florida. Difference this time being that I would be traveling with some friends from canada, even one guy who trains at the Glencoe club with me and a friend from Vancouver as well as another I would have just met. Sean, Kevin, Antonio, and I would all be sharing a hotel room for the week that we were in Orlando and it would be quite the experience.

 
Atrium in our hotel, it lit up at night

The tournament would start mid-week so we headed down on a Sunday this way there would be time to practice and get accustomed to the courts. I would only be playing singles for the tournament though but after such a great performance in Suriname I was hoping to do well here too. I would be playing against another European player, Ville Lang from Finland the Finish Viking as he would come to be known as. The venue wasn’t bad as it was at clear 1 Orlando, the same clear franchise owned by my boss where I work in Calgary. So the set up was pretty familiar and the real adjustment just had to come with regards to the shuttles and their speed.

 
Clear 1 Orlando, the tournament venue

Practice went smooth as there was lots of players that I knew and was able to get a few sessions in before the tournament. Something that doesn’t always happen because I usually travel alone but this time it was nice to go with friends. The plan was that once we were knocked out of the tournament we would go to universal studios one day and then Disneyland the next day but the tournament was to come first. So game day came and we all went down to the venue to play our matches. Sean was up first and played a Chinese Taipei player, I was next up and then Antonio and Kevin played their respected players. My match started out rough against Ville but come the 2nd game I was adapting a lot faster than I had in the past and was taking the fight to him. I felt better, although he was really solid when I was patient I was able to score a lot more points but then the impatient moments would kick in and that’s when errors occurred. I ended up losing the 2nd game 18-21 it was incredibly close and I could have forced a 3rd if I was a little more patient. But it was a learning experience and I was happy with the result, the Finish Viking had taught me a lot of valuable lessons.

 

This meant that the tournament was officially over for me as well as for Sean. So we would start to plan out the rest of the trip. The following day we ended up staying around the area as the weather wasn’t too great and we wanted to see if there was a few more players who wanted to go to universal studios so we could rent a car and keep down the cost. Turns out the 2 of my European friends that I had travelled with before, Jan Frolic of Czech Republic and Matej Hlinican of Slovakia, were also out of the tournament and looking to head down to universal studios. So the plan was set in motion and we bought our tickets online to head to the park the next day, it would be an all-day affair.

 
The gang left to right: Jan Frolic, Matej Hlinican, Me, Sean McGowan

The morning came and the weather wasn’t super amazing but was still Florida warm, with overcast skies looming and forecasted for the remainder of the day. Our bags packed and electronics charged we rented a car and started out on our grand adventure. It took around an hour to drive there and that was without traffic which was pretty long in itself but we finally saw the exits that marked Disneyland and Universal Studios, we had made it at long last and pretty early in the day only 10am at that point. Parking, we made our way to the gate…well to all the stuff before the actual gates to enter the park. There were tons of shops, food places, and just random things which was expected but we passed by it all in anticipation of getting into the park and onto some rides not before taking a group picture of course. Starting off in the park we hit up a warm up ride right away to get ready then went for a big one “Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall” which is a drop tower type ride. It wasn’t too bad but was relatively short with just a few shots up and drops. Still enough to get the blood pumping and adrenalin up though, we would continue our way through the area and onto the next part toon world. There wasn’t too many rides there and the ones that there was were water rides and seeing as we would get wet we would save those for later in the day. Passing by Jurassic Park his meant that we would now adventure to the best part of the park and most anticipates area, Harry Potter world which spanned between the2 sides of the universal park.


Got absolutely soaked on this ride
 

Harry Potter area was amazing and there were some fantastic rides. The main attraction however had broken down in the giant castle but they offered a walking tour through the waiting line and let me say that line can get ridiculously long… you could wait an entire day in line just to ride that ride. Spoiler they got it working later so we were able to come back and ride it. I have to say that is hands down my favorite ride at universal studios. But after that we went to get some butter beer which was delicious, it went down smoothly and had a creamy caramel flavor to it but was very refreshing. Following through that the rest of the guys went on one of the Harry Potter rollercoasters but I’m not a big fan of rollercoasters so I didn’t go. That was the extent of the Harry Potter part of the world on this side of the park. So we quickly went through the rest of the island and saw the Atlanta’s part and doctor Suse world then proceeded to catch the Hogwarts express over to the other side universals park.

 
Hogwarts Castle was awesome
 
Got my butter beer in hand


Arriving at the station we proceeded to go through platform 9 ¾ into London and towards daigon alley which is where we stopped for lunch. The rest of the Harry Potter world had just one ride which we did and was more of an interactive experience but still good none the less. The rest of that side of the park had the themes such as Simpsons land, the MIB ride, Transformers, Terminator, Minions, ET, etc so we hit up some of those rides along with the mummy indoor rollercoaster which was a great experience and I don’t mind those types of indoor rollercoasters. The rest of the guys went on the final ride twice which was the rock and roll coaster, it did have quite the amazing and impressive drop on it but I passed. The night had come and the theme park was closing soon, we had spent the entire day there and had been able to see everything as well as ride a lot of rides. We did end up going on the water rides before leaving that side of the park, they were not bad at all just got you really wet so good thing I brought an extra change of clothes.






The day was done and we went to the outlet mall across the highway quickly before heading back to the hotel for the night as well as to grab food. It was a long day and we were all tired so getting into bed that night was a big relief for sure and before you know it the sun had risen and another day started. Originally the plan was that on the 2nd day we would go do Disneyworld but looking at the cost and just how much I spent the day before at Universal studios I decided it wouldn’t be a finically smart plan. I would be flying out the next day back to Calgary for a day and then off to LA for the USA Grand Prix. But first I had to see my cousin who lives in Orlando. He is my actual blood related first cousin who I hadn’t seen since 2009 when he came down to Miami to see me play when I competed in the Miami international there. But this time I was in his city so it all worked out perfectly to meet up. Sean came and we went to downtown Disney to hang out and walk around, so even though I didn’t make it to Disneyworld I was able to make it kind of close at least. My favorite part was by far the Lego store because well I LOVE Lego and am such a kid at heart when it comes to those things. If I could have (and if the exchange rate was better) I would have bought so many Lego sets to take back home with me but alas the opportunity needed to be passed up this time. After some quick shopping it was time to head out grab a quick bite and then call it a night as I had a flight early in the morning the following day.

Who doesn't want to chill with a LEGO hulk


The flight back to Calgary wasn’t a bad one, had a stop in Chicago which I haven’t passed through before but thankfully no weather delays made everything smooth. Upon arrival in Calgary though was the best surprise awaiting me for my one night back home before flying out to LA for my final international of 2016, the USA Grand Prix.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2015 Suriname International

 


A month had passed since my last international (Chinese Taipei Grand Prix) and now it was time to travel to another. This time I would be flying back to South America to the country where I played my first international tournament representing Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname. Getting to Suriname is no easy task and there aren’t many ways to do it. One way that I saw from Calgary was to fly to Amsterdam and then back down to Suriname (because Suriname is a Dutch colony) the other was to go to Trinidad and then fly from there. I would choose the latter because Trinidad was able to secure a flight for me from Toronto to Suriname and return, which meant I just needed to book a flight from Calgary to Toronto. Now if you live in Canada you can understand how much it can be to fly to Toronto, if you don’t here’s an example; it is often cheaper to fly to Asia from Calgary than it is to fly to Toronto from Calgary. I’ll let that sink in for a moment for you, but anyways I was able to book a flight the downside is I would have a 10 hour layover in Toronto starting at 11pm at night. After that it was straight to Trinidad followed by another 6 hour layover and then finally arriving into Suriname at 1am in the morning. Follow that with an hour drive into the city from the airport and finally getting into the hotel room and bed at roughly 2:30am.


Our hotel... the one on the right not the nice one on the left

At night behind our hotel is a biker bar and they would rev all night

All lit up at night... still a dive but the casino was good
 
Now that the hard part was over it was time to go get in some practice at the tournament hall. South America is usually known for its crappy venues and horrible conditions for badminton. This time I was slightly surprised with the venue and it was slightly better than what I expected. The courts themselves were actual court matts which doesn’t always occur at these tournaments. The ceiling was high and didn’t have to bad of lighting once you got used to it. There was a few drafts but the thing was they were relatively consistent in the direction they were blowing the only issue was the strength of it would change with the force of the wind blowing. You see the building they used one entire side of the building didn’t have a wall on it and they did all they could to cover it up (they actually did an amazing job) with tarps and such so that the wind wouldn’t come through. Shuttles flew decently and I actually felt good playing at the venue. I would be playing all 3 events so that would give me lots of time to adapt, of course singles is the event that I care about the most and focus on the most.

Tournament Venue

So we got to practice in the tournament hall and then had the managers meeting. The first events would commence the following day with qualification for men’s singles in the morning and then singles and doubles in the evening. I didn’t have to qualify thankfully but would play somebody who won their qualification match first round in the main draw. This ended up being a fairly straight forward match and allowed me to adapt and feel better on the court. The doubles later that night was also straight forward and overall the first day of competition was a success. The following day would prove to be a little more tiresome with all 3 matches, singles, doubles, and mixed. I had singles in the morning against a Venezuelan player and that went the full 9 yards. The score was incredibly close with me coming out in the end 22-20, 20-22, 21-18. It definitely tested my mental and put my skills to the test but this meant that I was now in the quarterfinals for singles. I would play an Italian player the following morning for a spot in the semifinals, so singles was a success. Doubles went as planned and we won that match as well fairly easy which put us into the semifinals and would play an Italian pair the following day at night. Mixed came along and that was another long one, took 3 games but in the end we didn’t come out on top there and that was the first loss of the tournament for me. A long day spent at the tournament hall and some much needed food later it was time to sleep after a successful day.


Semifinals day rolled around, well quarterfinals in the morning for singles was up first. Because it was the morning the tournament hall was empty and there really were not many people around watching at all. This would be the first time I would play a player from Europe, in all the years of traveling and all the tournaments I have played it was either Asian players or players from our region (Pan Am: North, Central, South Americas, and the Caribbean) but this would not be the last time I’d play a European player for the year. The first game was death I was not ready at all for what came my way but come the second I put up an amazing fight and felt great if only I made a few less unforced errors I would have been able to force a 3rd and deciding set. Although I was knocked out to the Italian I was happy with my performance and with how far I had made it in singles, it had been a while since I advanced far in the singles draw and won some matches. Doubles was up next that night and we played the Italian pair who surprise surprise consisted of the same player who beat me in singles. Unfortunately that didn’t go our way either but overall was a great experience and an unexpected result in an event that I don’t train for a usually just play for fun.


So that was that the run came to an end and I was knocked out of the tournament, I was really happy though and it had definitely been worth it to go down to Suriname to compete. Some much needed world ranking and Olympic qualification points came out of it. Up until this point I really hadn’t ventured around the city at all since I was so busy competing and didn’t get time to go out in the day to see Paramaribo. This would change and the day before we left I would take the time to go out and explore. Walking around our hotel there was actually a lot to see, the presidents house, a plantation park, of course the river that runs through the city, and some various other sights that caught my eye. A quick lunch with my friends Jan (Czech Republic), Matej (Slovakia), Melinda (Australia), and one of their friends was a great way to finish off the exploration and prepare to go watch finals. There wasn’t much to see around the city, well within walking distance from the hotel anyways but what I saw would definitely suffice.




Finals took place but that’s where things got interesting. The finals were set for Saturday night the only downside was that people had booked their flights out hoping the finals would be in the morning as with most tournaments. As well it being Suriname that didn’t leave many options to leave the country especially with many players flying to Africa, South America, or Europe for other tournaments starting just a day or 2 later. That left just 2 finals to be played, mixed doubles and men’s singles. Both matches were an unfortunate one sided affair but they still had to do the medal presentation. That is where I would get onto the podium for my men’s doubles medal which turned out to be a trophy. My second international medal/trophy of the year, felt great to win that and made the whole trip even more worthwhile. But that also meant that the tournament was done as was my time in Suriname, the long trip back to Canada would begin soon.


My trophy from doubles

Walking out to the plane to leave Suriname
 

As with my flight to Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago had secured a round trip flight from Toronto to Suriname in Caribbean Airlines for me for no charge. This also meant that I would be flying back to Trinidad for yet another layover (7 Hours to be exact) and then a slight layover in Toronto finally arriving into Calgary Monday morning just after midnight. Some friends and my aunt visited me at the airport which was nice, I didn’t decide to go home for the few hours it would have just been too much of a hassle so I decided to stay at the airport. Finally I was getting closer to home just 2 more flights and a couple more hours. Overall though the trip was definitely worth it after getting to quarterfinals in singles and a semifinals result in doubles which was completely unexpected. Yet another trip had come to an end and another tournament under my belt. Although I didn’t go to a new country it was fun to revisit one that I hadn’t seen in 8 years and the site of the first international tournament that I ever played. So to get such a great result like that proved a lot to me that I have come quite some way in my career and journey of being a professional athlete. Next up would be 2 tournaments a lot closer to home, the 2 international tournaments in the USA on opposite coasts Florida and California.
 
I love Suriname, I had a great tournament and fantastic weather
 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Chinese Taipei Grand Prix and Taiwan

Mascot for the tournament

The time had come after a month of no traveling for September I was flying off again. This time back to Asia, 2nd time for the year for a tournament. I would be going to the 2015 Chinese Taipei Grand Prix tournament taking place in Taipei, Taiwan. I always love going to Asia, I really enjoy the region and the culture not to mention the food is amazing. My association entered me, main and qualifying reports came out and I was in the maindraw so that meant I booked my flight and would be in the country for 4 days. Leaving Saturday to get there and arriving back into Calgary the Friday morning, I had to coach Friday night. Then the draw came out…another lucky draw but not really as I had to play Darren Liew of Malaysia. Those who don’t know who he is well he was number 10 in the world at one point and also the Thomas cup silver medallist who lost the 5th and deciding match to Japan for the cold medal. At this point he hadn't played much and fell quite a bit in the rankings but still the opportunity to play a top player none the less. Well let's get this adventure off to a start.
 
The flights to Asia are always fun and while they are long (10+ hours at the least, depending where you leave from and fly to) they feel like nothing now because of how many times I have flown there. So I went from Calgary to San Francisco then SF to Tokyo and finally Tokyo to Taipei, Taiwan. The interesting part happened in San Francisco when we landed as we were taxiing down the runway I saw air force one parked on the tarmac. Little did I know this would effect me later on in the journey when flying out. As my layover in SF came to an end I boarded the 747 (I love big planes) and we started to push back from the gate then there was an announcement…that the flight would be delayed. The reason being because air force one was about to take off the entire airport was at a standstill, no planes could move or take off/land. So we had to wait, I don't know if the president was actually on air force one at that time since I know there are two of them. Regardless the standstill came to and end and the mayhem of airline traffic started but we were finally off. A quick stop in Tokyo and then it was off to Taiwan. Arriving at Taipei we were put into a holding pattern for a bit due to the excess of airline traffic arriving at the airport. Landing I was greeted by the welcome committee and we just had to pick up a few other players before boarding the van to the hotel. Arriving around 10pm at night I was unable to get a workout in as the gym closed so I made my way to my room and passed out on the gigantic bed, it made for some much needed rest.
My room was rather awesome
 
Morning broke and all that was planned was to have the team managers meeting and welcome dinner. As well I had a practice slot in the morning that I could attend. Made my way to the venue and of course it was just me so as always finding some players to hit with proved challenging. I was able to hit with the Chinese Taipei players but practice times were limited to half an hour only. Heading back go the hotel and after the managers meeting I met up with a friend who had just gotten in, Timothy Chui of Canada and we  arranged to have a hit Monday afternoon as it was just qualifications that day. Sunday night after the managers meeting there was a welcome dinner for all the players and of course I went to that. Welcome dinners for tournaments are done the best in Asia and Macau 2013 was one of the best to date that I have gone to. The tournament organizers approached me and wanted to make sure I was going as I was going to be presented with an award. The dinner was very well done and consisted of a 6 course meal. There was entertainment from the “sexy dancers”, a magician, some speeches, and then the award presentation where a bunch of us were presented with a trophy for attending the tournament. I left the dinner early around 8pm just 2 hours after it started but it didn't finish until around 10pm. Most players left as we all had to play maindraw matches the following day.
Tournament Venue

Welcome dinner for the players and the dancers

The award/trophy I was given for participating
 
Match day rolled around and I was scheduled to play in the afternoon. I got up ate a solid breakfast and relaxed a bit before getting ready and walking over to the venue. Upon arrival there was some good matches and I started to browse around and watch. Coming closer I warmed up and wanted to record my match but I didn't know what court I'd be on or know anybody who would be able to set up my camera for me. So I set it up to get all the courts in one shot. Darren Liew  and I walked onto the court and I was pumped for the match. I never get scared or worried when playing these high ranked or famous players. Quite the opposite actually it's really cool and an awesome opportunity to see how I stack up to them. The match started and I knew it was an uphill battle, we had some good rallies but in the end he was the superior player and took the match quite comfortably despite injuring his ankle in the 2nd game. I remember in the beginning of the 2nd game he kept me at the back of the court essentially playing isolation against me. I walked off the court disappointed in my performance that I couldn't get more posts but satisfied with some rallies and pegging him with the shuttle a few times.
 
Just like that my tournament was over, another first round loss. I had a day and a half left in Taiwan at that point the rest of the day from my match and then the full next day. This meant time to explore. I met up with a few friends over the course of my next day and a half. First stop was a night walk with my friend and we visited some interesting stuff including a popular shopping area which had a Times Square feel to it. The president’s place and a monument to the first president of the country were up next as well as some of the national music and preforming centers. It was night for all of this so it made the views all the more spectacular and memorable. After that I headed back to the hotel and got a workout in but making sure to go to bed early as I would have a huge day tomorrow with a lot of sightseeing to do.
 
Is it just me or does the presidents place look like a cake...


Mini times square



 
The sun was out and I was up bright an early at 7am, very rarely do I get up that early while traveling even for the free breakfast at the hotel. But this time I had a good reason I was leaving the hotel soon with my friend to see Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world (4th tallest at my time of viewing it). So we got on the train from the hotel and took the trek down to the tower, the ride was simple and the train system there is reliable and quick. Walking out of the station I was greeted by the colossus that was Taipei 101, its design stood out against the bare skyline. Nothing else even begun to come close to being noticeable against this towering giant. We made our way into the mall that is attached to the tower and then onto the lobby. The elevator at Taipei 101 is world famous and holds a Guinness world record in 2004 for the fastest passenger elevator in the world at 60.6 Km/h and takes you from the 5th floor to the observatory on the 89th floor in 37 seconds. Arriving at the observation floor you could see everything for miles in each direction, the view was stunning. The sheer height of the building was amazing. Up there they had lots of stuff talking about the construction of the building and what went into the design. There was also the option to go to the roof and get a better look at the antenna on top of the building but you couldn’t see too much scenery wise. Then there was the chance to view the damper, a 660 ton pendulum which helps the building to survive against intense winds and earthquakes so it doesn’t sway. That concluded the time in Taipei 101 a quick walk through the gift shop to get to the elevator to go back downstairs and it was off to get some food, half the day was done already.
 
First thing I saw when I got out of the underground station




With one of the mascots and there 660 ton damper


Its made out of coral
 
Next stop on the list was a museum all about Taiwan’s history, it was located up in the mountains and was quite the nice scenic route to get to. Bu before that we walked around Taipei 101 area and saw some of the pubic art that was there. Lots of cool statues and interesting instalments to take pictures with. There were tons of exhibits and artifacts to see in the museum but we didn’t have time to see them all. It would have taken an entire day on its own to cover all the floors and walk through every hall that was there. After spending a few hours there and learning about the history of Taiwan it was time to go back to the hotel and get some food. I had some time to kill so did a workout and started to pack. I was going to meet up with my last friend in the night to go out and party a little bit to enjoy my last night in Taiwan.
 

 
The museum is huge despite looking rather small
 
The night had come and my bags were packed, minus last minute things that would be packed in the morning. I would need to leave the hotel around 8am to go to the airport and catch my flight back to Calgary. But first we went to get some noodle soup followed by a walk to another shopping center for some browsing and where there were some bars. We met up with some more people and spent a few hours there hanging out, playing games (darts and pool) before finally calling it a night. We were close enough to Taipei 101 that I was able to see it lit up at night, it is a different color each night of the week. After the adventure which was wandering around Taipei and playing a tournament I was now time to head back home. Just 2 flights to take and I would be back in Calgary Friday afternoon. The flight back was relatively smooth and once I was back I needed to rush off to coaching that night. Finally after coaching I was able to go home and sleep but would need to wake up early Saturday morning to coach again and followed by Sunday morning too. So fighting jet lag would have to wait a little bit.
 

Taipei 101 all lit up at night
Overall the trip was great and I was happy I went despite having such a tough first round. The year would be drawing to a close and I would try and play a few more tournaments to get some world ranking points but as well Olympic qualifying points too. Suriname, Orlando, and LA were 3 more tournaments I had planned for and would take me through November and December.

Monday, December 21, 2015

2015 CAREBACO Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic



Not more than a month had passed since the surrealistic experience of the Pan Am Games and I was flying out again to another tournament. This time it was the regional Caribbean championships called CAREBACO and was being held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Trinidad was sending a team of us to represent the country and compete in the senior and junior events. The senior team consisted of Jason Ramjass (my doubles partner from nationals), Alistar Espinoza, Solangel Guzman, Avril Marcelle, and Leanna Castanada, and myself. We were the senior team that would represent Trinidad and Tobago at the championships. Along with us was a large junior contingent which had entries in all age categories for the individual events as well as a junior team for the junior team event. There was also a Junior International that happened right before the Junior CAREBACO so in a way the juniors got 2 tournaments out of it.


First things first was getting to Santo Domingo and I needed to find a decently cheap flight there and that proved to make things very interesting on the route that I would take. Logic does not always dictate that flight routes make sense and believe me when I say that mine wasn’t the most logical both going and returning. Let’s start with the journey there which had me go for the milk run. From Calgary to LA, LA to New York, and finally New York to Santo Domingo. This proved to take a full 24 hours of traveling including an overnight flight from LA to New York and arriving into Santo Domingo around 1am in the morning. The rest of the Trinidad team arrived just an hour before me so they waited at the airport to collect me and head to the resort. The host hotel was at an all-inclusive resort by the beach so there was no complaints there as it was pretty much food and drinks included and a beach with picturesque clear water. The accommodation though wasn’t as ideal, there was 3 of us sharing the room during the team tournament phase (Jason, Alistair, and me) but then during the individual tournament Jason and I were to have a room to ourselves but we got stuck with one of the juniors in the room with us.
 



Aside from all that the resort wasn’t anything special, it wasn’t a 5 star resort right on the beach there was a little walk to the hotels private beach. The food was sub-par at best and most of the time it appeared to be under cooked but it was free so I guess I’m not allowed to complain. There was also drinks involved but they were watered down for sure which is expected from an all-inclusive resort. Didn’t matter because we wouldn’t be spending much time there other than sleeping anyways as the tournament hall was at least an hour drive away with no traffic. That journey easily jumped to 2 hours when there was traffic. It also meant that all the players had to go down at the same time and stay there the whole day as there were not multiple shuttles do and from the hotel. Over cramming the bus going followed by being sweaty, tired, and hungry on the ride back was not a fun combination or fun way to spend a week.
 

The original tournament venue was to be close to the hotel but some last minute complications happened which required it to be changed to the further one. This new venue was just like most other tournament halls I have experienced in my travels to South America and the Caribbean…crap. There were multiple openings in the wall which allowed a lot of wind to come in. funny story and spoiler alert, here was a hurricane coming towards the island which would hit later in the week when we were there. So the tournament started with the team championships, there was 4 teams present. Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, and of course Dominican Republic. It was a format of a men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and a mixed doubles. The order of play could vary and usually always started with a men’s doubles. We played Barbados first and the following day we played Dominican Republic and the next day Jamaica. At the end of the team championships when all was said and done we came in 3rd place so a bronze medal for the Trinidad and Tobago senior badminton team. After that started the CAREBACO International which was a BWF event and counted towards world ranking as well as Olympic qualifications.  
 



Individual events started and I was the 4th seed for men’s singles. That was the first time in a really long time that I have been seeded for an international tournament. I played a local player first round and then after played Gareth henry from Jamaica. However the day that I played Gareth there was a hurricane that blew through and they only played a few matches that morning because the winds and rain were coming in, unfortunately I was one who played and that was a hard time with the shuttle blowing every which way. Unfortunately I lost 2nd round singles and then 1st round men’s doubles and 2nd round mixed doubles. My tournament was over but first we had to make it through the hurricane. That hit us but not as hard as it could have been, there was some minor damage and to my knowledge no causalities.
 


The tournament was done for me on Friday and I was leaving Santo Domingo Sunday morning at 4am with a ridiculous flight path to New York, then to LA and finally to Calgary. That meant that I would actually have Saturday to relax/enjoy the place. But first it meant going out on Friday night to the resorts club on the beach, that was a lot of fun and with free drinks it turned into quite the night of partying island style. Waking up the next morning I didn’t have a hangover or anything though so I was grateful for that. Thankfully the hurricane didn’t mess up the beach and Jason and I were able to enjoy the water, it was incredibly salty but warm none the less. At this point it had been a long time since I made it to the beach let alone went into the water. So to relax in the ocean was such a peaceful and calming thing to do. At this point half the day was done and that meant I needed to pack and get ready for my early departure. 
 


 

Once night hit we ventured into the streets and wandered around because one of our friends wanted a real drink and no more of the watered down alcohol at the resort. Our walking took us straight to the red light district of Santo Domingo and we ended up getting bombarded by prostitutes and their pimps. It was quite the interesting experience to see how many foreigners were actually there enjoying themselves and taking in the sights. After finally getting our friend his drink we left and headed back to the club on the beach for a little and I said my goodbyes to everyone from the Trinidad and Tobago delegation that was there. The driver who was talking me to the airport was also at the club so I didn’t have to worry about missing my ride, 1am rolled around and we made our way to the airport. Early morning flights/red eye flights are the bane of my existence and when I retire from competing and am traveling I will avoid them at all costs.


The trip back to Calgary would take me all day and I would arrive at 9pm that night as I had a few layovers in New York and LA. The flight to NYC from Santo Domingo started off smooth but then only 45 minutes there was a medical emergency and we were not sure if we would have to turn around or divert to another country/airport. In the end we continued forward and made it on schedule to NYC. The rest of the flights I ended up sleeping and watching movies on my tablet but was grateful when I finally arrived home and could sleep in my own bed, and not have to share a bed. That would be the end of the trip not the worst but not the best. I ended up coming home with one medal at least and that’s something big a medal from an international tournament. I would get a bit of world ranking points for Olympic qualifications and got to go to the beach and into the ocean. I wasn’t planning any tournament’s for September but that meant that I had to figure out what to play next as tournaments/points from the previous year would start to fall off.