My Badminton and Life Blog

My Badminton and Life Blog

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Trinidad 2012

So it is December 24, 2012 and I am sitting in the airport once again on Christmas Eve travelling. This time I am heading home from Trinidad and Tobago where I recently went for 12 days for a “vacation”. Yeah it was sort of a vacation I did play some badminton while down there. Almost every day but that was it 2-3 hours of badminton then spend the rest of the day resting and seeing friends. I only got to go to the gym 2 times to do actual weights which is a lot less than I would have wanted but was able to do some body weight exercises at home.

Overall it was a great trip, got to see all my friends and play against the players in the country to see what the level is like. I can say that the standard is lower than what I’m use to in Canada. I will be heading down there in March for the National Championships and will be looking to medal at nationals if not take home the title. So I will be training very hard over the next 3 months for that. First order of business when getting back to Calgary is to get into the gym for weights as well as go for a nice long run plus some footwork haha.

Only being in the country for 10 days technically (2 days were spent traveling) the time seemed to fly by. I got to go out on the avenue with friends to lime on a Friday night after training which was a ton of fun. The atmosphere is so different in the Caribbean at clubs and bars, not to mention that I nor anybody else was being checked for age/ID at all anywhere we went. 

Also no trip to Trinidad is complete without a trip to the beach, Maracas Beach that is. I went there on the day before I left with my friends and it was a great time, playing some Frisbee and drinking some cool ones on the beach. The best part about beach is not the weather, the sights or even the beach itself it is in fact this wonderful food called bake and shark which is just delightful to eat and customize with all the sauces and spices you desire.

With my time down there over this marks my last 3 flights of 2012 to get home, yes that is correct 3 flights to get home. I went from Trinidad and Tobago to Newark airport in New Jersey, then onto Houston, Texas and finally on route from Houston to Calgary, Alberta. I know what you must be thinking, surely there was a more direct flight. Well yes there was a flight from Trinidad to Houston then Houston to Calgary the only thing was there was a 10 hour layover in Houston. Taking this way means that I get home 6 hours earlier than if I took the other flight. The 2nd and more important reason is because of the extra miles. I had Elite status with Air Canada for 2012 and for 2013 Air Canada revamped its program adding extra tier levels. In 2011 I only needed 35,000 miles accumulated to get Elite Status but with the introduction of these new tiers for 2013 this year I need 50,000 miles to get the same benefits. So that is an increase in 15,000 miles. I will be cutting it close but thanks to these last 3 flights I will have over 50,000 miles to continue to enjoy my elite status (Altitude 50,000 as it will now be called) for 2013.

So this marks the end of 2012 flying home on Christmas Eve to enjoy the holidays in Calgary for once. Now comes the fun part of planning out all my travel/tournaments for 2013. I already have some planned but with a recent loss of points in my world ranking dropping me over 70 spots it may be a little challenging to make main draw for some of the bigger tournaments. A year in review blog is in order and I will make sure to post that in a timely manner as well as for the New Year will make sure to keep on top of posting regularly for whomever out there does happen to read them.

To all who stop by, happy holidays, merry Christmas, and a happy new year, may the holiday season be filled with joy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012 XVII Pan Am badminton championships.

I apologize for not updating sooner as I have been very busy with school, training, and coaching. But here is the start to the entries that I have missed, only a month and a bit late :P
October saw me going down to Lima  Peru again but this time it was for the 2012 XVII Pan Am badminton Championships. I was representing Trinidad and Tobago at the games in the individual event and was the only participant from the country to take part in the games. I left Canada on October 9th and got there the same night. Going down wasn't bad I didn't end up getting upgraded but did end up sitting next to the pilots daughter so that was nice.

Upon getting into Lima there was the long drive from the airport to the actual city center where the hotel was located. Being after midnight at that point I was starting to feel tired, thankfully there was only a 1 hour difference between Lima and Calgary. After checking into the hotel I had a snack to eat and then headed to bed. The next day would be the 1st of 5 days of not seeing the sun. For the entire trip the sun barely shun in the sky. It was overcast and cloudy the whole time with the occasional showers and wind. Not to mention it wasn't overly warm and when going out needed to have something long on.  I stayed at the same hotel that the Canadians were at which was nice knowing quite a few of them from travels.

The 10th saw me going over to the tournament hall and trying to get a quick hit in which I was able to. Then watched the 3/4 playoff for the team event. After that it was off to the team managers meeting and then wandered around before grabbing some lunch at a quaint looking restaurant which was very nice.
The 11th rolled around and that saw the start of the individual portion of the tournament. I was up against a player from Guatemala named Rudolph Ramirez. He is a great player and it was a tough match for me for sure. Things worked during the match and other things didn't  The courts were a little slippery but overall not to bad and the venue itself was not a terrible place compared to other halls that I have had to play in. There was a little bit of a draft but nothing to major for the court that I was on. Playing that match I started to figure out how to play a little to late but the feeling of advancing my game is coming and has gone up since then for sure. I did make more unforced errors than he hit winners against me.

After my match saw me sticking around the tournament hall and catching the rest of the nights matches  because of how the shuttle service was scheduled. After going back to the hotel that night I went out to get some dinner.

There was a mall located about 2 blocks from the hotel. It is literally built into the side of a mountain and is roughly 3-4 stories down. It has amazing views and the greater majority of its restaurants were all located overhanging the cliff with fantastic views of the ocean/coast. If only it was sunny then it would look amazing but it was still beautiful scenery despite that. The next day after I lost my match would be my last day as I would fly out the coming morning on a 1am flight. So I spent the entire day walking along the cliff walk and seeing all the sights that were there from the art/monuments to the beautiful scenery and gardens.
So that marked the end of the journey, did some shopping saw some sights and played some good badminton. After that I had the long journey back home with my flight leaving Lima at 1:30am. I have yet to fly into or out of Lima in the daytime to actually see the scenery in the daylight it’s always these red eye flights. But the good part was that my upgrade request went through and I had an executive class upgrade for my flight from Lima to Toronto.

So that marked the end of the trip down to Peru, it was a great trip and I am happy that I was able to experience it. Arriving back in Calgary I decided to skip going down to Miami for the Miami International and that would leave the 2012 XVII Pan Am Championships would be the last international tournament for 2012. With that being said I would lose out on 920 points at the end of 2012 when my tournaments from 2011 start to fall off and I do not replace them. Now I just need to plan out my 2013 tournament schedule well for the 1st half of the year anyways and then go from there. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

3 Big Goals

600 days till the 2014 XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

953 days till the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada. 

1344 days till the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Summer 2012

Another summer has come and gone yet it seems like it never existed at all. This summer was a busy one, it was one of the 1st summers that I was in Calgary during the beginning (May and June) as well as traveling to Asia and other places in the end of summer. I spent the first half of my summer taking spring classes at the University of Calgary. While doing that I was trying to train as much as I could for the US Open GPG and Canadian Open GP both in July one week after each other.

The tournaments came and went, they were tough and made me realize how unprepared I really am to compete at the international level. I felt that I performed better earlier in the year (April) in the two tournaments I played in Asia (Vietnam International and Osaka International). After both of those tournaments I didn’t have anything else to do for summer except travel to China to train (there is a complete blog post all about that). So summer came, summer went I got to experience a lot of things and see a lot of places.

2012 US Open Grand Prix Gold @ OCBC

2012 Canadian Open Grand Prix @ Richmond Olympic Oval

2012 Canadian Open Grand Prix @ Richmond Olympic Oval

Vancouver, Canada 

Made new friends, saw old friends and had some days when I just enjoyed life and lived it to the fullest. This summer passed by so quickly that I am not sure where 4 months went, even though 2 of those months were spent in school it was still “relaxed” in a sense as compared to my normal schedule. So now its the 1st day back to school tomorrow (Monday September 10, 2012) and that will see me doing 3 courses. I will be coming so close to finishing off my degree of a double major in communications and culture and my other major in Geography. After April 2013 all I will have left is option courses to finish in order to graduate. Those will be a pain in the ass to finish since they will all have to be at the 400 level or higher.

New friends

Skating in Shenzhen, China

Beach in Shenzhen, China

All in all I really don’t have much to say about this summer, my life will be back to its normal schedule within a few weeks now. School, training, work, training, sleep and then repeat Monday to Friday. The weekends are slightly different. Workouts are going great and I am feeling stronger as well as looking a little bigger which is nice even despite not doing any weights the month that I was in China. Hoping to make some more progress by the end of the year that’s another 4 months so will be able to see some more results. As well with badminton and going to make sure to work at things properly and see some progress with regards to the mental strength.

Other than that this is sort of a bittersweet post, goodbye summer and hello normal routine. I know it’s not super in-depth or anything terribly interesting but in all honesty and reality not that much happened this summer. Let’s see where the rest of 2012 will take me, there’s lots of stuff that could potentially happen and places to go. I’m excited to spend Halloween with friends and then potentially go back down to Trinidad and Tobago during Christmas to see my friends and family down there. 

Goodbye Summer 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

China 2012

They always saw third times the charm, well in this case it definitely wasn't. This is the third time that I will be training in china and the fourth time that I've been to China. Third time training what a charm it was indeed.  So things started out with my flights from Calgary to Guangzhou encountering some problems; the Calgary to Korea route as my flights got canceled. I got re booked and was soon on my way  via air canada. There was bad weather around mainland China and Korea as a typhoon was moving into the region from the south. I caught a lucky break in the weather but still experienced  a lot of turbulence while flying and some menacing looking clouds. The only consolation to this series of unfortunate events that took place was that my direct flight to Tokyo saw me have a whole row of seats to myself so that was really nice. From Tokyo to Korea I had another whole row to myself and a complimentary upgrade to preferred seating. Then I had a business class ticket on air China from Korea to Beijing then the same from Beijing to Guangzhou. So after spending the night in Korea and 3 long days of traveling with some complications I was finally at my destination and ready to train.

So there I was in Guangzhou ready to train with Xiong Goubou at his international communication badminton center. This place was pretty much a dorm set up and was not the nicest but this is coming from a person who lives in north america. In reality the place was more than livable, and I didn't mind having to squat down to do my business. What bugged me was when the coach said that everything Ardy Wiranata, Kim Dong Moon, and coach Wong (the provincial team coach in Nanning) had taught me was wrong. During a defensive drill one of the coaches said that I should never left leg lunge out to the side because it's wrong, I asked why but there was no explication just that it is wrong to do. His overhead forehand swing is a very unique one for sure and goes against what Ardy had been working on with me. This new Chinese coach wanted me to start from scratch and learn all his techniques, I'm positive that he is/was a great player in his time and that his technique  worked for him and if there are years to practice it under his supervision then am sure it works just fine. But I was going to be there for a month and it was not in the cards to learn everything completely from scratch.

He showed me pictures of just a handful of Chinese players (2 to be exact) that use something similar that technique and I showed him pictures of many players (10+ just to start) that don't and all he had to say was that it's not right how they swing. His technique was so ridged and stiff and only allowed for one shot to be played in many instances. I tried it out in a game and it felt horrible. There are aspects of his technique that I took because some elements are partially useful when modified...needless to say that was not going to be the place for me to train at all and I had to get out of there.

Some unfortunate circumstances arouse that caused me to be able to leave the center. After getting there just a few days and having a little time on court I knew that I didn’t want to train there. Part of me was happy because I didn't like this guys style yet part of me was frustrated I had spent all that money to get to china to train and then I would be leaving there before a week had passed.

I had been attempting to set up something for me to train and make the most of the rest of my trip to China through a contact I made year’s earlier training in Nanning. But that was troublesome due to coaches/players not being available. Upon arriving at the airport there were Canceled flights left right and center. There was a storm moving up the cost of china and to get to Korea or even to Beijing just wasn't going to work it seemed.  Long story short the entire ordeal was dealt with and all was settled I ended up in Shenzhen training with a coach who is very famous and very good; Luo Guohui. The downside is that it is substantially more expensive to train at this new place. But I did like the coach and how he teaches as well he's very friendly and speaks english too so that was very nice. He didn't try and change any techniques that I have instead is just working to make everything better and changing/modifying little things here and there. Along with him were 3 other coaches (1 guy and 2 girls) that would be working with me while I was there. Its funny comparing the two coaches the other one from Guangzhou was so stiff and that really hampers what could be done where as in Shenzhen it's all about being lose and relaxed in the wrist which makes more sense and I liked it more. But yes completely different than the other place and techniques looked more normal to say the last. The one downside was there were not many other players to train with, there was one athlete from Hong Kong but he would go back and forth for exams. I did get to train with some of the other coaches (there were 3 other guy coaches) and they would do drills with me and games.

The training was good, I pretty much got 2 hour private lessons every time we had training and we trained multiple times a day 2-3 times. I can say there is one thing I won’t miss and that is the heat, I will be happy to not sweat buckets every time I step on court. From 400 pushups, 300 crunches, 300 squat and lunging strength training to the 10 sets of 40 shuttle multi-shuttle training; Shenzhen was a great experience and I truly enjoyed my time there. One of the coaches near the end wanted to hang out with me outside of training. One Monday when we only had to train once for the day in the morning we went out in the afternoon to the mall. We met up with her friends and her friends little brother to go to the arcade, ice skating, and then eat at a fancy restaurant. It was a great experience and I enjoyed doing something other than badminton for the day.

So that was not the end of the emotional roller coaster no no no, there was still the matter of getting back home. Originally I was to leave china on september 8th but that wouldn't work anymore as to the added cost and due to when classes started. So I began the long, tedious and annoying (not to mention extremely costly) process of changing my flights. All in all it cost me around $530 to change my flights but that means that I need to spend 3 days 4 nights in korea so add another $330 onto that for hotel and well this trip got pretty expensive very very fast. Spending the time in Korea and paying for hotel was still the cheaper option than getting a flight any of the earlier days that's how crazy (and expensive) things were.  I don't like how much extra money this has cost I know that things don't always go as planned but dang things went bad this time. All in all this may be the last time that I will be coming back to China to train cause of the cost of things.

The next Olympics are 4 years from now which means that the qualification period starts in 3 years (2015).  I still have such a long way to go before I can even consider making an Olympic run. I need to get to that level where I will be a threat on the international scene and not just some persons free pass to second round. If I'm serious about this I will need to move away and I'm thinking that europe will be the best bet but it is very expensive to move and live there. I want to finish school first that shouldn't take to long within the next year and a half I should be done and then could potentially move  away to train and work anywhere in the world I can get a job and the training is good. I'm just unsure if I will be able to get to the level that I need if I stay in Calgary the next 2 years. But regardless of that I have great resources available to me in Calgary with an amazing coach (Ardy Wiranata) who had been so helpful to my game and is always helping me at every turn. I am truly grateful that I have Ardy to help guide me through my career.  

The strongest part of my game is my fitness, no matter what I will not get tired. Even doing the 20 minute drills in china that require jumping all over the court. I will need to work on my Badminton fitness and more so leg strength that is what I need the most within the next 6 months I will work hard to increase my overall leg strength and power. Work towards getting more explosive on court. As well I will be doing more footwork with the 20lb weight vest I have access too. All this along with on court training in order to try and up my technical side (especially consistency) but I also need to focus on the mental and strategy side and that seems to come mainly from match play and competitions. It's been 5 and a bit short years and while I have come a decent way. I still have a climb ahead of me but I have stopped looking at the whole mountain and am just taking on piece by piece bit by bit. It's almost impossible to see my own progress (except when watching videos of matches or training, which I have found to be very useful recently). I have a few more years left to chase this dream; if I do things the Danish/European well I could still play well into my 30s at a fairly high competitively level. Some of my good friends on the international circuit are in there very late 20s (27+) or early 30s. They may have had the before of starting when they were young or in their early teens but doesn't bother me that I discovered this wonderful sport at 18 and started to train soon after.

Well that is all for this recap of my end to summer 2012, not much in terms of going camping or enjoying the summer haha. More just training as hard as I can and traveling around the world.  I had poor performances at the 2012 US and Canadian Opens but I have accepted, analyzed and moved on from those for the most part. I am hesitant to enter anymore international tournaments this year but know that I will need to in order to maintain/improve my world ranking. As of Thursday August 30th I am ranked 330/1651 in the world for men’s singles. Highest this year was 318 in the world. If I do enter any tournaments I may go to either the Peru Pan Am Individuals in October, Miami International in October or Puerto Rico International in November. We will see what happens and where I go from here.