After moving back from Vancouver I didn't have any immediate tournament plans other than potentially playing in the Pan Am Championships which is our yearly regional badminton championships. July to be correct with the US Open in New York was my last international, so come October 15, 2014 I headed out on tour again. This year Pan Am’s were in Markham, Ontario because in 2015 Markham will host the Pam Am Games which happens every 4 years and is a replication of the Olympics just on a regional level/scale. This time I would see myself competing in my 2nd Pan Am Championships but only in the individual event as there were no other Trinidad players attending to enter a team. My 1st Pan Am’s were in 2011 in Lima, Peru but this time it was a lot closer to home…it was in Canada just on the other side of the country. It would be stupid of me to pass up that opportunity with it so close to home and I would not have to spend much money to attend just fly over for the weekend play and come back home. One of my friends from Barbados also wanted to attend and she was the only player from her country going to so we ended up playing mixed together for the individual events to get in an extra match and make the most of the trip.
So I left Calgary and jumped on a plane to Toronto which isn't that long of a flight and because of how often I've flown that by now its next to nothing. Thankfully it wasn't a red eye flight so I arrived at a decent time and wasn't tired from it. Sabrina arrived a few hours before me but didn't get picked up so when I arrived we linked up and were driven to Markham in style. The hotel was fabulous a nice brand new Hilton suits built almost on the outskirts of the town. There was a shopping center and park across the street and then not much else aside from stuff a 10-15 minute walk away. The best part though was the room that we got it was a suite with a kitchenette in it and pretty much looked and felt like a condo. There was also a fitness club, that’s right an entire club built into the hotel as it was also for outside use but we got free access to it pool and all.
|The room was a condo pretty much|
The facility was the new Pan Am center which they built specifically for the Pan Am games happening in 2015 at the same location. The Games are a multisport event that happens once every 4 years so it is a big deal and there is a lot of infrastructure going into preparing for them. So the facility was brand spanking new you could smell the paint that was recently used as well as they were still building or completing parts of the building. When I arrived the team event was just finishing and the finals were going on so went to the facility to watch those as well as try to get a hit in the practice area to adapt to the conditions. The thing is that the practice area and the main hall felt like 2 different areas despite being in the same building and just separated by a wall. The following day was a break and then matches for the individual event would commence the following day but first there was the opening ceremonies for the individual event. This had all the athletes walk in together showing what country they were from and of course I was the only representative from mine. Following that were some speeches from the planning committee, city officials, etc and then a lion dance proceeded and concluded the opening ceremony.
I and Sabrina had our mixed match in the morning followed by a nice break and then singles in the afternoon/evening. In mixed we played a pair from Peru and things got interesting as we were doing pretty well for never playing together before but the Peruvian got a lot angry when Sabrina flicked him a few times and got all giggly about it. He was pissed off and started to show his anger both verbally as well as in his shot selection. So that was my experience with the mixed doubles it was fun and I thank Sabrina for playing with me for it we had a good time out there. Evening came and that meant time for the main event, men’s singles to start. I was one of the first matches up and was on the TV court playing against Daniel Paiola from Brazil who was also the 4th seed for the tournament. It was going to be an interesting match and despite the scores the match was pretty good with decent quality rallies and some good points. Ultimately though the difference in skill level proved too great and Daniel had a relatively easy time closing out the match to win. That meant my time at Pan Am’s was over but I still had 2 days left in Markham to kill before heading back home.
One night I ended up going to play badminton with a friend from the area named Vincent, we ended up playing out of a club based in one of the local high schools. Armed with my badminton gear and google maps I made my way to the club and had some matches with him and his friends, it was a fun time to just relax and play some fun badminton for a change. Other than that I did not do much sightseeing as going to downtown Toronto or even out to Niagara Falls was a pretty far drive/transit ride as well the weather wasn't always nice. I did however venture around Markham or at least the area I was in when it was sunny enough to. Apart from all that I spent my free time sleeping or in the gym at the hotel because sleep is something I don’t get much of at home. More so the opportunity to sleep in till 11am or 1pm since I have training and stuff to do in the early mornings. Plus I have been to Toronto before and am sure that I will go back again, despite being a 4 and a half hour flight away for being in the same country.
Just like that Pan Am’s had come to an end and I would be flying back home, another tournament completed another trip taken be that not too far from home. I got to spend time with my friends, Kamasha and Sabrina. The 3 of us ended up going out for sushi that night before both me and Sabrina left the next day, I had an unfortunate 6am flight back to Calgary which meant leaving with the Brazil team at 4am in the morning. Returning to Calgary I would end up coaching that night what a life it is that of an athlete from training, competing, coaching, that leaves very little time to myself or to relax even. All was not over though I would have to start preparing for the next tournament which would be a bit further away, back to Asia again this time Korea for a tournament there.