|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|