Thursday, May 26, 2011

2011 Morocco & Spain International Challenges

(Additional pictures will be added to my Facebook Fan Page)

The 2011 Morocco International was held in the city of Marrakech between May 12-15. There were a fair number of Canadians attending this tournament, including Stephan Wojcikiewicz (MS), Derrick Ng (MS/MD), Adrian Liu (MD/XD), myself (XD), Nicole Grether (WS/WD), Charmaine Reid (WS/WD), Joycelyn Ko (WS/WD/XD), and Grace Gao (WD/XD). We stayed at a 4-star Atlas Targa and Resort Hotel which wasn't too bad. It had a huge swimming pool but access to food was quite limited. I have shot a video for it which I will attach later.

The tournament itself was not very organized. Draws had not been completed except for the MS qualifying, leaving 64 draws for MS, WS, and XD untouched. On Thursday, only MS qualifications were played, leaving a very large number of matches to be played on 5 courts. Because of poor scheduling, on Friday, we played 2 rounds of MS, WS, and XD with nothing played in MD and WD. Saturday's schedule was 2 rounds of MD and WD, with 1 round of MS, WS, and XD to bring us all to the QFs, which was ALSO held Saturday evening. That was a LOT of matches for some of the players. That also meant Semi-finals and Finals would have to be played on the same day, on Sunday.

2011 Morocco International Poster

Overall, the tournament wasn't actually too bad. Surprisingly, the venue wasn't as bad as it first seemed, though they had to cover up a few windows and the courts were actually taped on to the floor. I have a video of the venue that will be posted below. Shuttles weren't too bad as we were using Yonex AS-40s (instead of regular 50s or Tournaments), but they ran out of shuttles and had to go use AS-30s in some of the finals. Unfortunately, the scheduling was rather poor, because that meant we would miss a possible meal. Since we could only have the hotel buffet, we would have to pay an extra 20 Euro for lunch and dinner on top of our accommodation costs. Also, we had a player's banquet that was held really late Friday night. The food didn't come out until pretty late and was Moroccan styled food. Normally I wouldn't mind trying something new, but because I didn't want to risk getting sick, I decided not to try. There was some interesting entertainment at first, as we got to see some snake charmers, but that was the highlight of the dinner, other than some of our rather futile attempts at requesting that they turn down the volume of their music. I already didn't like their music in the first place, but to blast it at a volume loud enough to make my ears ring for an hour after leaving early, that speaks large amounts (though not as much as my Facebook status at the time ~__^).

I could say the tournament didn't go too bad for the Canadians, though it went much better for Germany and Spain, who captured the doubles events and the singles events respectively. However, we ended up taking a few medal spots in the doubles events, with Adrian/Derrick making the semis in MD, Nicole/Charmaine making the semis in WD, Adrian/Joyce making semis in XD, and Grace and I taking 2nd place in the XD. Below are a few matches that I have and more information on the final results can be found on Badzine.

[Final Results -]
[Draws - Tournament Software]

2011 Morocco International - YouTube Links:
XD R16: Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Ruben Khosadalina/Meisy Jolly Lee [INA]
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

WD QF: Elena Prus/Anna Kobtseva [UKR] vs. Joycelyn Ko/Grace Gao [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

XD QF: Johannes Schoettler/Sandra Marinello [GER] vs. Dorian James/Michelle Edwards [RSA]
Game 1
Game 2

XD SF: Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Johannes Schoettler/Sandra Marinello [GER]
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

XD F: Michael Fuchs/Birgit Michels [GER] vs. Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2

2011 Morocco IC Podium - XD (Missing: Liu/Ko [CAN] 3/4) 
2011 Morocco IC Podium - WD
2011 Morocco IC Podium - MD (Missing: Liu/Ng [CAN] 3/4)
2011 Morocco IC Podium - WS (Missing: Allegrini [ITA] - 3/4)
2011 Morocco IC Podium - MS (Missing: Zweibler [GER], Palyama [NED] - 3/4)

Here are some of my specialty videos where I try to film the city, the venue, and the hotel. The videos aren't the greatest, especially the hotel one as I was walking around pretty quickly, but hopefully it can give you a brief taste of what I saw, as I believe video captures a more realistic scene.

Bus Ride from Venue to Hotel (HD 720)

Tournament Venue (HD 720)

Atlas Targa and Hotel Resort (HD 720)

Next up...

Downtown Madrid, Spain
Grace and I went to Spain next, in addition to Charmaine Reid and Nicole Grether for the 2011 Spanish International Challenge. The other Canadians in Morocco joined some others players and headed to China, for the 2011 Sudirman Cup. If you are wondering why Grace and I didn't go, the first reason was that we would have to pay our own way to China. Spain was much more convenient to play, and we also had the potential to achieve more points if we did well in Spain. But still, the primary reason was that it was more cost effective as we are already going to Asia in about a week.

The 2011 Spanish International was held in Madrid. We stayed at one of the listed tournament hotels, but because the tournament rate was ridiculously high, we booked the hotel ourselves online (which I hope upcoming athletes who want to start traveling should try to do sometimes). The tournament hotel is most convenient usually, as transportation from the airport is provided, and transportation to the venue is also usually provided, but you might be paying a premium for these services. In this case, since there was no transportation to the venue anyway, we saved quite a bit, even though we had to find our own breakfast and get our own transportation from the airport. Nonetheless, we were able to share a cab with Karyn Velez [USA] and her dad when we got into Spain, which probably saved us each 5-10 Euros =)

Spain International was a decent tournament, but unfortunately, there was no practice facility, unless we paid to play (in addition to our own transportation arrangements). So from Monday until Wednesday, we had no practice courts. Fortunately there was a gym in the hotel which was decent, so we were able to at least stay active. We actually stumbled upon a decent Chinese restaurant with good prices, and Grace, Charles Pyne [JAM], and I found ourselves eating there quite a few times before the tournament started. We also got to wonder around and found our way into downtown Madrid. There were a LOT of people there, with various street performers and everything, but I would say a lot more to see than things to do. Aside from the fact that I didn't want to spend unnecessary money, I did get to walk around and do some video shooting =) The link will be attached after the matches!

A stadium near our hotel

Once the qualifications began, we had some practice courts to hit on, so we spent a bit of time trying to get ready for the tournament. My first scheduled match was actually the final match of the day on Friday evening at 10:00pm. I was a little nervous, as I wasn't sure how I was going to play with minimal hitting time over the week, and we were also playing an English team. The English have some pretty good mixed teams, so even though they seemed to be a young team, we would have to be careful. The first game didn't go very well unfortunately, and that meant we really needed to work hard in the 2nd and 3rd sets. And indeed it was, as we had to go the full distance in the 3rd set and barely scraped by. Special thanks to the Mexican team who stuck around and cheered for us! It was nice to have some encouragement especially when the other team is supposed to be the underdog... Anyway, the match did take a toll on us, as we had to play the next morning at 10am. It's really a test of figuring out the best thing to do, and perhaps it could have been a mistake to watch our video before we went to sleep, but it's really hard to say. When you don't play a great match and need to prepare the next day, would you watch a video to catch your mistakes or just sleep on it? Actually, it was worse for me, because I was quite sore from the game and had to do some additional foam rolling and Self Myofascial Release stuff on my body, or else I know for certain I would be too stiff to play the next day...

Regardless of what we should have done, the QFs seemed to be a repeat of the night before. We easily lost the 1st set and had to force the next 2, but this time we weren't so lucky. The real problem of being seeded is that if your opponents get the confidence that they can beat you, it makes it a lot harder to beat them. If they come into a match nervous and you play well at the beginning, they usually lose confidence and give up. Well, the opposite happened of course, and no, we didn't come back and win it... A big thanks to Karyn and her dad for trying to cheer us on =) But yeah... I was pretty choked that day and I got myself sick because I didn't really eat much the rest of the day. Unfortunately, because of that, I don't have any pictures or footage of the venue, or any matches other than my two mixed ones from Spain. I did try to take a video of downtown Madrid, but I was having a headache and walking fast, so it makes the footage very shaky (really Blair Witch style... kinda). Oh well... not the best tournament, but it is what it is...

[XD Results - Tournament Software]

2011 Spain International - YouTube Links:
XD R16: Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Ben Stawski/Lauren Smith [ENG]
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

XD QF: Zvonimir Durkinjak/Stasa Poznanovic [CRO] vs. Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

Walking Around Downtown Madrid (HD 720)

Some kind of political event that happened when we were walking downtown

Guess that's my trip to Africa and Europe! It's actually not too bad I guess, because we were able to push our World Ranking back up to the first page (Top 25) for now =) Hope next trip will be better because next time we are playing with the big guns from around the World in Singapore and Indonesia!

Thanks for checking out my blog and I hope you will continue to support me on my 2012 Olympic run! Thank you, everyone =)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Article for the 2011 Junior Canadian National Championships

Here is a brief article that I wrote for the 2011 Junior Canadian National Championships held at the Richmond Oval, Richmond, British Columbia this past week. Congratulations to all the winners and a special thanks to those who made the event a success! As the programs for the tournament were only distributed to the athletes, I've attached my article below for those who may want to take a look at it. Enjoy!

ShoutOuts to My Opponents: The art of 'Yelling' in Badminton

This article, though it is meant to educate, contains a personal perspective based on my own experiences. However, I have seen first hand the evolution of 'yelling' in badminton, as I feel partially responsible for bringing it to Canada *laugh*. Though I can't credit myself to be the first person to do it, I may be the first person to offer fellow Canadians a little background on this victory yelling after rallies, as it is being increasingly popular, especially with the younger players. I anticipate that this Jr. Nationals will be the loudest ever, but at least we can seek to understand it.

My first experience with 'yelling' was at the 2009 Korea Open, playing Men's Doubles with William Milroy and being coached by the legendary Kim Dong Moon (2-time Olympic Champion for South Korea). We were up against a team from Chinese Taipei in the first round. Though we tried our best, we lost anyway, but all I kept hearing from Kim in the match was “More pumping up!” At first I thought he meant I needed to move faster or move more, but after the match, he explained to us that both sides were really quiet. He wanted us to yell more, to try to energize ourselves. In other words, he wanted us to 'pump ourselves up'. It seemed a little odd to have your coach tell you to yell more, but he explained it further to us by telling us that we needed to encourage ourselves more to show the other team that we were still fighting back. The best way of doing that was to yell, but of course in a controlled manner.

Let's fast forward to March 2011, where I had the fortune of training in Korea for 6 weeks. Yelling was so common over there that they would even yell in practice. Though there was slightly less yelling at the older level, high school players in practice games would be yelling constantly. If they won a rally or lost a rally, it didn't matter. Jon Vandervet and I faced a young high school team who would yell about 3 times each player before the start of every rally. Sure we thought it was a little ridiculous, but even though our skills were better than theirs, they were playing every rally with their full intensity, doing whatever they could to try to win. The yelling, though it seemed over the top at first, seemed to be energizing the whole gym, as players on other courts were doing the same thing to their practice opponents. It seemed odd, as all this yelling would definitely be awkward in a North American setting, but then it hit me:
Players DO NOT take it personally when their opponents yell. As soon as we all realized it, it made training easier, if anything it facilitated it by firing ourselves up to do the best we could. There was no psychological game about it, and it was not a yelling contest. Everyone solely wished to do their personal best, to bring their best to each practice, and at the end of the day, everyone is on the same team as they push each other further and further. I never once saw someone give up in practice because they faced a much tougher opponent, and I never once saw someone fooling around because their opponent was weaker. Everyone gave their best and it brought out the best in everyone.

Yelling seemed to play a big role in badminton in Korea, but it extended to other sports there as well. I had the fortune to see some other sports and yelling was no different. I am also certain that yelling extends to other Asian countries as well, including Japan and China, and since it is continually spreading through International badminton, I see it everywhere I compete. It is easy to dismiss it as unsportsmanlike at first glance, but take it into the context of the player trying to win their mach. Most of the time, the player is playing with an unfavourable crowd and it can be pretty tough when everybody is cheering for his or her opponent(s). If nobody is cheering for that player, at least be mindful and let the player cheer for him/herself. Personally, I know it's tough when everyone is out cheering against you, but to all the players competing at the Jr. Nationals, there should always be one voice on your side: your own voice. So cheer yourselves on, and I hope everyone has a little better understanding of why badminton players yell after rallies...

  1. Do NOT, I repeat do NOT take yelling from the opponent(s) personally. Should they be yelling too extravagantly, that will lead to their downfall, which brings us to:
  2. Do not make it a yelling contest. Each yell is individual to each player, so if your yell is not as loud as your opponent's, nobody cares... and you definitely shouldn't either.
  3. Yelling should be used as encouragement, so I wouldn't recommend yelling when frustrated. Instead of yelling when you are frustrated, signaling to your opponent that you are stressed, try a smaller encouragement 'yell' or two before you start the next rally.
  4. Ignore the crowd. If there is any form of heckling, ignore it. Do NOT take it personally. Continue to cheer yourself on. There may be cases when people who do not understand yelling and they try to heckle you.
  5. Keep track of your yelling. If you feel that your yelling is getting progressively louder and louder, make sure you control the yelling and not the other way around. Yelling should often be done the same way every time, otherwise you may have entered into a yelling contest.
  6. If you aren't comfortable with yelling yourself, then you don't have to yell. Just understand what to do if your opponent(s) yell i.e. do NOT take it personally.
  7. Lastly, keep the yelling to badminton. Don't scream at your family or friends =)

I hope you've enjoyed the article. Keep track of my badminton journey on my blog ( and best of luck to everyone competing this week!

Toby Ng
Badminton Canada – National Team Member