I was lucky enough to use my aeroplan points to book my flight from Hanoi to Osaka but had to go through Seoul, Korea. The plus side to it was traveling in business/first class on ASIANA Airlines which was an amazing experience way better than 1st class on any North American airline by far. It took a day to make the trip due to a long layover which was spent in the lounge working on homework. From Seoul to Osaka I flew on 747 which I thought was ridiculous for an almost 2 hour flight but the plane was packed and I was ever so thankful not to be back in economy. The Osaka International was April 4-8, 2012.
Upon arriving in Osaka I instantly fell in love with the city, it is such an amazing place and I would go back in a heartbeat. It took an hour and a half of driving from the airport to get into the city and to our hotel. The organizers rented a bus since I wasn’t the only one to come in; part of the Indonesian team came in the same time. I checked into the hotel and then the tournament venue was pretty much right beside the hotel the Mouriguchi City Gym. So I took a walk over there to the venue to check it out and saw some teams practicing. I had a practice time for the following day at 7pm at night after the team managers meeting. When I went to the gym for my practice time I ran into 2 friends that I trained with in China which was amazing and I was so shocked to see them there. I hit with them for about 30 minutes to get use to the facility which was a lot nicer than the one in Vietnam but still was a huge venue.
With these huge venues the depth perception is what messes me up personally because of where I train in Calgary it is only 32 feet high. These stadium/larger venues have ceilings that are 70+ feet in the air and it messes with my perception if I don’t get to practice in a place like that long enough. Eventually I’m sure Ill adapt and get use to it. The second thing with large venues is there is no sound you cannot hear your own shots to the same extent as in a small club gym. You can hit a huge smash and it sounds like absolutely nothing meaning when your opponent smashes hard you can barely hear the full sound.
I played a guy from Singapore and it wasn’t a bad match, he was a lot stronger than me and had a very powerful attack. He also out played me at the net, spinning back any net shots that I played against him. His pushes didn’t put me out of position, neither did his clears but it was his smash that did the most damage because of how accurate and powerful it was combined with his flat aggressive drive play. What worked to my advantage were slices though especially on my around the head corner I won most of my points with that shot. Overall not a bad match and a learning experience for sure what the level is like over in Asia. I got to watch matches every day and saw everything from players getting completely destroyed to some of the closest most entertaining games.
Being in Japan I ended up eating a lot of Sushi, from both the supermarket and from restaurants. As well I enjoyed lots of other kinds of foods too. I was not able to bring myself to have McDonalds after the tournament though; it has been 4 years since I last had a burger from there. I will save that moment when it is truly deserved to eat a burger from a fast food joint. I did a lot of my shopping for food in the supermarket and it worked out to be really cheap to eat while there for the week.
The days after I was knocked out of the tournament I went browsing around Osaka. I was fortunate enough to visit a Yonex warehouse and see all the products that they had available, as well was fortunate enough to receive quite a lot of Yonex products while in Japan. I was also able to visit Osaka Castle and walk around the surrounding area, spending a good 4 hours doing that and not completely covering the entire area. The day before I left I was able to see one more sight so I went out into the “countryside” taking a 45 minute train ride (switching trains 3 times) to a shrine/temple. I enjoyed that area but got a little scare when it looked like it was going to rain on my parade, fortunate for me it didn’t and I was able to enjoy my last day in Japan before starting to make my long trip back home.
I had to catch my shuttle to the airport at 6am in the morning because I had an early flight out of Osaka back to Hanoi to spend a night and then fly back through Korea to Vancouver and finally Calgary. It took 48 hours from the time I left Osaka to the time that I landed in Calgary. I was fortunate enough to get an upgrade to executive class on my flight from Korea to Vancouver; I was not looking forward to spending that time in economy on such a long flight. The service did not even come close to what I received on ASIANA Airlines though.
Overall my time in Asia was a great experience and I was happy to be able to see the level of play over there. I was happy to be able to have the opportunity to train with local players in both Vietnam and Japan that was truly a unique experience and something that expanded my knowledge of the game. I just need to continue to work towards my goal, to improve become faster, stronger and most of all more consistent.
After those two tournaments my rank went up to the highest it has been to 362 in the world for men’s singles. I know that is not that high but for me it is incredible after not playing badminton that long and working so hard for this. I can only hope to break into the top 300 in the world by the end of 2012 or even higher. As of April 26, 2012 my rank is 382 for men’s singles and that will remain around that area until I play more tournaments in July. My next 2 tournaments will be the US Open Grand Prix Gold and the Canadian Open Grand Prix both in July. I can only hope since its Olympic year and the Olympics are later that month a lot of players will skip over those tournaments and I will be fortunate enough to get main drawed instead of going through qualifications. But that is all for another blog.