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.