Someone left me a comment on my 2012 All England blog and I felt that I should address it in a new blog instead of replying in that blog posting because it was quite unrelated to the tournament:
Thank you for your comment and I appreciate your thoughts. However, I would like to clarify some things with everyone... mainly my diet and funding issues.
The first question I want to ask everyone is... "What should an Olympian eat?" It seems really easy to point out things people shouldn't do, but with constructive criticism, then what SHOULD I be eating? I've seen nutritionists at the odd team training camps, I've gone through nutrition in school, I've read magazines and the unfortunately useless Yahoo! articles, but what should an Olympian eat? I wouldn't know. What I do know is that the things an individual chooses to do may or may not have the same effect on another individual (see Michael Phelps). As far as I know among the Canadian National Team members, I would say Michelle Li has the best diet, as she more or less only drinks water and is cutting out certain 'bad' things from her diet (e.g. fried food). My brother Derrick likes to try new things and totally changes his diet, but he also believes in his MonaVie stuff. Adrian Liu prefers to have rice as often as he can, while Alex Bruce loves sandwiches. A few of the players also do the protein shakes and some also take creatine. But what do I do?
Well, I prefer to get my protein from natural dairy sources, so I try to eat yogurt and cheese more often. I go with low fat cheese and unfortunately they don't have drinkable yogurt in Canada at an affordable price. Unfortunately, drinkable yogurt is quite limited in protein, so I go for fortified soy milk over regular milk because I have some minor lactose intolerance. The price point of fortified soy milk is slightly more than regular milk, but nonetheless lower than lactose-free milk or other fancy products. I don't eat organic food because it's more expensive. I eat fruit regularly, but only what is cheap. I tend not to buy fruit that is more than 99 cents/lbs so I really never shop at Safeway unless I need bananas. I also eat a lot of whole-wheat bread... but only if it's cheap. I try to eat at home as much as I can with my family to save money, but I do have sushi the odd time. I do eat a lot of white rice as my family traditionally cooks white rice. This is my regular diet at home... why? To SAVE money.
So what happens when we travel? Doesn't that simply mean eating out most of the time? It's quite hard to control your diet when you're on the go. Do you know what the first thing I look at in a menu when I travel? PRICE. It's that pathetic. Why do I choose to eat pizza? Because the salad costs more and I would probably need to eat two of them. Also, the salad has a low carbohydrate supply and if I was training/competing all the time, I would need fuel from my carbohydrate sources. Pizza on the other hand has carbs (along with fat and massive amounts of sodium), but I know what I'm eating. The only time I eat hot dogs are when they are FREE. I know they're unhealthy, but I would rather eat cheap/free food over spending money (I'll address funding below). I know eating steak would be a much better option most of the time because it has more value for your dollar and it could be one of the best menu options, but the burger seems more affordable. Fries or salad? Sometimes I have to think about what FILLS my stomach over what is healthier... because of the money. What are my options then? Pay a premium for better nutrition? If we could control all variables and ONLY changed nutrition, how much of a difference could it make in badminton? It's been a LONG time since I've lost a match and blamed it on my fitness... so how much do I think adjusting nutrition affects our badminton in Canada? Not very much. It's also comforting to see other International players eating where we eat, even at the odd McDonalds now and then. So what's my formula for my diet? Simple... (Calories INPUT) < / = (Calories OUTPUT).
Let's clarify: our funding used to be 10 of these... 'cards' and we got stripped down to '5'. A reasonable level was '8'. So would it really be 'increasing' our funding? Yes and no... yes, because 8 is 3 more than 5, what we have now, but 8 is also less than 10, what we had before. So to a reasonable level, seems... reasonable based on what we had before. But perhaps you are right. Maybe it's not worth funding a player in each event, thus decreasing our carding quota even more, but Badminton Canada doesn't treat all events equally... so we continue to fund someone in Men's Singles even though it is poorly represented on the World stage. So the 'reasonable' level can be decreased to 7... and if someone is doubling up in two events (e.g. Michelle Li), that can decrease the number of cards to... 6. But too bad, we only have 5, so now everyone is out playing tournaments that can guarantee them funding, instead of trying to improve their level of badminton Internationally. Hey, I tried that once but I lost funding for that year... so I learned my lesson. Is this how an Olympian should train or orient his/her goals? Heck no. Even I know that's a terrible way to develop a player, but I guess we all follow the money. Nutrition, training programs, quality of life... follows the money.
However, I need clarification on "Flashy Accessories". I, for one, own a lower end phone, a Samsung Wave and do not have the fancier "Galaxy S II's" or "iPhone 4S's". I have a Kobo E-reader, $200 CAD compared to whatever the iPad 2 or the NEW iPad costs. I own a Sony mp3 player, which costed $99 CAD compared to whatever and iTouch/iPod costs. So what if I'm not an Apple fan? I have an HD camcorder which I've purchased a few years back to video tape matches, but it's not like I'm super tech-savvy. The most expensive thing I've purchased recently was a Samsung Ultrabook, but I've had to save up a long time for it. I've been using a netbook for almost 2 years now, which costed $400 but I need something that can actually play and render HD video, because my computers at home are actually close to 10 years old.
So what REALLY needs to be said is that I don't have to do any of this blogging, video taping, or anything else because a REAL aspiring Olympian would get sponsors or endorsements or have someone else doing this for them. They can spend their time and money towards something more EFFECTIVE because their sport is more highly recognized than mine. They can be media icons, spokespeople to kids in high schools in their communities about nutrition, goal setting, or whatever... but not for badminton. So I operate a very large volunteer operation here promoting my sport in Canada the best I can... why? For money? Do I even have a 'Donate' sign anywhere on my blog? Maybe I just want to show the World how tough it is for the struggling amateur athlete in Canada... there are still those who try because they love their sport.
Oh... and before I forget. People can win even if they don't deserve to.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Adrian and I left Germany on Saturday morning for Birmingham because we decided to fly to Heathrow and take the train instead as it probably saved us a bit of money (since we will not be going to Swiss Open). We booked the train ticket early, so it costed about 15 GBP for a roundtrip train ride to Birmingham, and another 10 GBP to get to London Euston station from London Heathrow. However, it was a long 'journey' as the English would say, because we pretty much spent the whole day traveling. We flew at around 11:30am Germany time and arrived at about the same time in London, as England has a -1 hour time difference. We went through immigrations a little easier, as we flew from Germany so we arrived in Terminal 1. International flights from further places usually land in Terminal 3, where the immigration officers question you endlessly and the waiting times are enormous. When I had arrived prior to Germany, I was lucky to go into the express lane for immigrations, but ended up having to answer why I was going to Germany, which countries are good at Badminton, and I even had to NAME top players, which the immigration officer wouldn't know anyway. However, to give him some credit, it would be tough to make up a bunch of names on the spot. Since I wasn't lying though... whatta jerk :P
|On the train... see the rainbow?|
|Nothing like the Sunday Roast with a drink for 5 GBP!|
|Hey look... Canadians! :P|
Play began on Tuesday, with Derrick and Alex in the Mixed Doubles against Korea. They gave a good shot but fell to the Koreans in 2 sets. Michelle and Alex also had to play later in the day, as they had a bye in the qualifications but lost to England's very own Jenny Wallwork and Gabrielle White. Nicole Grether and Charmaine Reid, also in the qualifications with a bye lost to a Malaysian team. On Day 2, in the Main Rounds, we were treated by a visit by Arak Bhokanandh, a good friend of ours who was working in Vancouver for a while, but he moved back to England for schooling. But it was nice of him to stop by and cheer for us and hang out as well :) Michelle started off the day for the Canadians against Liu Xin of China. Despite losing a very close first set, she came back and took the 2nd set. However, China really picked things up in the 3rd and closed the match. Good effort by Michelle though, as it's really great to see her challenging the better players. It's only a matter of time before she starts pulling off those huge "Double-u's" ("W"). Following her match was my mixed with Grace against Indonesia. We were up against Hendra Setiwan and Vita Marissa, a very new mixed doubles team but consisting of very experienced players. However, I knew that they weren't very interested in playing Mixed Doubles together so it was definitely a match we could win! We started off fairly well, staying close at the interval in the first set. Things soon started falling apart though as they took a bigger lead and ended up closing the first set. We started off well again in the second set, but this time we took a lead after the interval and took that set. Finally in the third, we trailed a bit before switching sides, then things started massively falling apart :( Despite the 3 gamer, we only spent about 35 minutes in the entire match, meaning about 10 minutes per set. That only means short scrappy rallies usually, as I think higher level doubles/mixed play will have about 20 minute sets... so still a ways to go to reach a higher level. Ironically, we get interviewed after the match, despite my protests of "But... we lost?". Special thanks goes to Jennifer Lee for coaching our Mixed match against Indonesia!
|Coach Jennifer Lee with Alex and Derrick|
|Michelle with her coach Jennifer|
|Player's seating area on the left... pretty sad :(|
Last up for the day for Canada was Adrian and Derrick against World #1 Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng of China, also top seeds for the tournament. Despite all their efforts, China had little difficulty defeating them, but Adrian and Derrick played well enough that they had to TRY to win. Even though it was a short match, there were a few good rallies to watch in the match. Click below to see Adrian and Derrick's interview on YouTube.com by the Badminton World Federation!
That was pretty much the end of our tournament, despite play ending at about 2am that night. We spent Thursday training and watching some matches and many of us left Friday to go home because we weren't playing the Swiss Open. Adrian and I took the train back, though the scheduling was a little tight, we made it with a bit of time to spare despite checking in a little later (arrived at the airport about 1.5 hours before departure time). However with our Elite statuses with Air Canada, check-in was quick and security wasn't too bad either. We were in the lounge in no time, but boarding was shortly after. I did manage to eat 3 hot dogs though. Fortunately, I was able to get upgraded to Executive First (business class) so the flight home went quite smoothly :) That's pretty much my 2012 All England experience, so now I'll be home for a while! It will be nice being home long enough to implement a more regular training program as my next planned tournaments will be Peru and Tahiti in April!
Full Results via TournamentSoftware: [2012 All England Super Series Premier]
Matches via YouTube.com/towbsss:
XD R128 (Qualifier): KIM Sa Rang/CHOI Hye In [KOR] vs. Derrick NG/Alex BRUCE [CAN]
WD R64 (Qualifier): Jenny WALLWORK/Gabrielle WHITE [ENG] vs. Alex BRUCE/Michelle LI [CAN]
WS R32: LIU Xin [CHN] vs. Michelle LI [CAN]
XD R32: Hendra SETIAWAN/Vita MARISSA [INA] vs. Toby NG/Grace GAO [CAN]
MD R32: CAI Yun/FU Haifeng [CHN] vs. Adrian LIU/Derrick NG [CAN]
That's all for now! I'm planning to do something special for the Badminton Canada Players Association though! I hope to have it done before Peru and released at the beginning of April... so stay on the lookout for that! Meanwhile, I'll see if I can blog about other things... we'll see ;) Thanks for visiting!
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
The German Open was held in Mulheim, a city about a half hour drive from Dusseldorf (the airport we fly into). As far as I know, the tournament has been held there for a while at the RWE Sporthalle as this would be my third German Open since 2008. I flew into London Heathrow from Vancouver, and transferred from Heathrow to Geneva, Switzerland, then to Dusseldorf, Germany. I bumped into teammate Adrian Liu (Men's Doubles) in Geneva and we headed to Germany together. We were promptly picked up by organizers and driven to the hotel, but apparently the hotel was closed so we went to a different one for the night. We took a taxi and moved back to our original hotel the next morning before heading to the main hall for a practice.
As a typical higher level tournament, it started with qualifying on Tuesday. Derrick and Alex had to play a qualifying match against Germany in the morning, but unfortunately they were a little jet lagged and lost a close first set before losing to the Germans in the 2nd set in a two set match. Michelle Li started off for the Canadians on Wednesday by defeating Susan Eggelstaff of Scotland again in straight sets at a 9am match. However, that would be the only win for Canada for the tournament, as Derrick Ng/Adrian Liu were up against 2008 Olympic Champions Hendra Setiwan/Markis Kido of Indonesia. Though they put up a good fight, they lost in 2 sets. Alex and Michelle also lost to a Chinese Taipei team in the Women's Doubles, while Grace and I lost in straight sets to China, despite having a 19-13 lead in the second set (yes... we lost 8 points in a row... >___<). Charmaine Reid/Nicole Grether also lost to the top Indian Women's Doubles team in straight sets.
The next day, after having a light practice, we went over to watch Michelle play against the #1 seed in Women's Singles, Wang Xin of China. Despite her efforts, Wang Xin really proved that she is one of the best players in the World at her event and left Michelle a lot to think about after the match. Nonetheless, a valiant effort by Michelle to tackle on a player probably in the top 3 in the World.
|6 Euro Pizza (~ 1.33 CAD = 1 EUR)|
Overall, Germany was pretty good. The badminton was up and down and everyone had their own experience, but I felt I played pretty well overall. The only problem with my match that Jennifer (from Lee's Badminton, Ontario, also Michelle Li's coach) pointed out was that I was too passive at the end of the 2nd set. I should have kept the pressure on and forced the Chinese team to make a mistake, instead of keeping things in play and hoping that they will make a mistake. Special thanks to Jennifer for coaching us at this tournament (and also at All Englands... see next blog) as it was really nice to have a coach and having another opinion on what to do on court. In terms of other things in Germany, we didn't experience too much. The food we had was priced averagely, so it was about roughly the same amount I would spend on food in Vancouver. We had a lot of pizza and pasta, but it was made very well and was delicious each time. Alcohol was quite cheap, and I happened to stumble upon some infamous Duff Beer (The Simpsons, anyone?). Haribo candy was also really good and well priced and I also don't know how many cold coffee drinks I had that week, as they were 49 cent Euro each. Much cheaper than spending 2-3 Euro on a hot coffee.
|6 bottles of Duff Beer for 4.99 Euro|
Full Results via TournamentSoftware.com: [2012 German Open Grand Prix Gold]
Matches via YouTube.com/towbsss:
XD R128 (Qualifier): Peter KAUSBAUER/Johanna GOLISZEWSKI [GER] vs. Derrick NG/Alex BRUCE [CAN]
MD R32: Markis KIDO/Hendra SETIAWAN [INA] vs. Adrian LIU/Derrick NG [CAN]
WD R32: HSEIH Pei Chan/WANG Pei Rong [TPE] vs. Alex BRUCE/Michelle LI [CAN]
XD R32: HONG Wei/PAN Pan [CHN] vs. Toby NG/Grace GAO [CAN]
BONUS: 3 vs. 3 MD (Korea Team Practice) - LEE Yong Dae/JUNG Jae Sung/YOO Yeon Seong vs. KO Sung Hyun/KIM Sa Rang/KIM Ki Jung
I guess that's pretty much it! We left on Saturday for Birmingham, so I'll explain the journey in the next blog... the 2012 All England Super Series Premier!
Monday, March 5, 2012
The 2012 Thomas/Uber Cup Pan American Preliminaries was held on February 17-19th at the Los Angeles Badminton Club in El Monte, California. This has probably been the first team event for Canada since the Sudirman Cup in May 2011, but this time we have both a men's and women's team, so we had much more players. Unfortunately the team came at different times in the week, so we probably only had one coordinated practice. Here is the team roster for the Canadian team, with their rankings:
- Joseph Rogers (MS = 293)
- Sergiy Shatenko (MS = 336)
- Nyl Yakura (MS = 443)
- Derrick Ng (MD = 29)
- Adrian Liu (MD = 29)
- Francois Bourret (MD = 96)
- Kevin Li (MD = 96)
- Toby Ng (MS = 287; MD = 205; XD = 29)
Coach: Jeff White
- Michelle Li (WS = 24, WD = 28)
- Joycelyn Ko (WS = 79, WD = 39, XD = 39)
- Phyllis Chan (WS = 129, WD = 208)
- Christin Tsai (WS = 376, WD = 208, WS Jr. = 29)
- Grace Gao (WD = 39, XD = 29)
- Alex Bruce (WD = 28)
Coach: Ram Nayyar
(Rankings taken: February 16, 2012. Mixed Rankings available for players with higher rankings)
I've attached the rosters based on rank with the Singles players first, followed by the doubles players. Although both coaches helped out on both teams, if the Canadian teams were on at the same time, then they would split off accordingly.
|Uber Cup meeting after practice|
We began play on the Friday, playing in pools of 4 for the Thomas Cup and a single round-robin pool of 5 teams for the Uber Cup. As there were 8 countries for the Thomas Cup, so we were split into 2 pools. Brazil was the first seed, followed by the US, then 3/4 seeds went to Guatemala and Canada. Seedings were based by team world rankings, so because we didn't have any high ranked singles players, we were seeded pretty low. Fortunately, we had Brazil in our pool, along with Barbados and Suriname. The Uber Cup team simply had pool play with every team once, with a Canada vs. USA for Sunday. With pool play, we play all 5 matches (3 singles, 2 Doubles), whereas knockout play (Semis and Finals for Thomas Cup) would be first to 3 matches. We came out in our pool as the top team, as we beat Brazil 3-2 in pool play, while USA came out 2nd, as they lost to Guatemala, so we would have to play the USA in the Thomas Cup semifinals. The Uber Cup team was doing well and would play the also undefeated USA team for the Pan American Uber Cup Finals spot, to be held in Wuhan, China in May 2012.
|Lunch at Ray Ray's, attached to the LABC|
|Joseph Rogers testing shuttles|
1st MS: Sattawat Pongnairat [USA] vs. Joseph Rogers [CAN]
2nd MD: Howard Bach/Phillip Chew [USA] vs. Adrian Liu/Toby Ng [CAN]
2nd MS: Howard Shu [USA] vs. Sergiy Shatenko [CAN]
1st MD: Tony Gunawan/Sattawat Pongnairat [USA] vs. Kevin Li/Derrick Ng [CAN]
3rd MS: Nicholas Jinadasa [USA] vs. Nyl Yakura [CAN]
From the looks of the match ups, we were quite at a disadvantage because any combination we tried would be a lower overall ranking than our USA opponents. Regardless, that didn't stop us from trying, but we were at a disadvantage because we did not have any of our Canadian National Team Men's Singles players. We lost our first Men's Singles in straight sets and up next, oddly, was 2nd MD. From the match up listed above, it was rather odd that they did not use: MS 1,2,3, then any combination of the MD because Sattawat was the only one who played twice. So up next was Adrian and I, even though we were anticipating on playing last or second-last. It was a tough game, as it was pretty much a 'must win' game. The only way to win was probably to win 2 singles and 1 doubles, as it would be incredibly tough to beat Tony in Doubles. However, it didn't work out and we lost to Howard and Phillip in straight sets as well. Sergiy was playing last, but with a 2-0 deficit and a very "iffy" line call in the 2nd set of Sergiy's match, we lost to the USA in straight sets. On the other side of the semifinals, Guatemala played and also won in straight matches, as they played all 3 MS first. Why was their order different? I really don't know...
Unfortunately we had to play a 3/4 playoff against Brazil again, but we mixed our lineup and put Sergiy, Nyl, and Derrick in Singles (1, 2, 3 MS respectively), then Kevin/Frank and Adrian/I in 1st & 2nd MD. We played the same time as the Uber Cup Finals, so most of us just ended up cheering for our Uber Cup team instead. The Thomas Cup 3/4 playoff went really well for us, with us winning 3 straight, with Sergiy, Nyl, and Kevin/Frank taking their respective matches right away. The Thomas Cup finals was also interesting, as USA turned things around and took 3 straight matches (2nd MD, 2nd MS, and 3rd MS) after losing their 1st MS.
|2012 Thomas Cup Canadian Team - Pan Am 3rd Place|
1st WS: Michelle Li [CAN] vs. Rena Wang [USA]
2nd WS: Joycelyn Ko [CAN] vs. Iris Wang [USA]
3rd WS: Christin Tsai [CAN] vs. Jamie Subandhi [USA]
1st WD: Michelle Li/Alex Bruce [CAN] vs. Eva Lee/Paula Obanana [USA]
2nd WD: Joycelyn Ko/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Rena Wang/Jamie Subandhi [USA]
Our Uber Cup team was stronger than the USA team in probably all of the events, but not nearly as significantly as the USA Thomas Cup team to the Canadian one (i.e. difference of ranking of about 10-20 spots, vs. 100 spots). Rena and Iris Wang are actually the top USA team at the time of the tournament, but by splitting the team, they strategically put Eva Lee/Paula Obanana as the 1st WS. Rena/Iris have lost the past few encounters against Alex/Michelle, while Eva/Paula are a lot closer in their match ups. Michelle did well to give Canada a 1-0 lead by defeating Rena in a close 2 sets, but Iris came back to tie it at 1-1 with an upset against Joycelyn. Christin was up next, and though she lost the 1st set against Jamie, she fought back and took the 2nd and breezed through the 3rd set to bring Canada back to 2-1. The most intense match up of the Uber Cup would have to be the 1st WD, with Alex/Michelle losing a close 1st set, and coming back to take a closer 2nd set. The final set was the most intense, with it going into set points. It went back and forth a few times with the USA scooping up a fluke defensive shot which won them the match to tie it at 2-2. The final match to determine the Uber Cup Pan Am winners was quite one sided unfortunately, as Joycelyn very much struggled to recuperate from her WS loss earlier. Also, it seemed as though the playing style of the American team was well suited against our Canadian team, as they were a very defensive team. Canada lost the final match, with the Americans winning both Thomas and Uber Cup Pan American spots and will represent Pan America at the Thomas/Uber Cup finals in China.
|Uber Cup Finals: USA (left) vs. CAN (right)|
|Thomas Cup Finals: GUA (left) vs. USA (right)|
|Canadians cheering on their fellow teammates!|
|UC Final: WS #1|
|Jeff White coaching Alex/Michelle (WD #1)|
|UC Final: WD #2|
|2012 Uber Cup Canadian Team: Pan Am 2nd Place|
Full Results via Tournament Software: [2012 TUC Pan Am Preliminary]
Matches via YouTube: [Channel: towbsss]
(Thomas Cup - Pool) Canada vs. Brazil
1st MS: Joseph ROGERS [CAN] vs. Daniel Paiola [BRA]
2nd MS: Sergiy SHATENKO [CAN] vs. Alex TJONG [BRA]
Game 2 (Pt 1)
Game 2 (Pt 2)
3rd MS: Nyl YAKURA [CAN] vs. Luiz Dos SANTOS [BRA]
Game 1 (Pt 1)
Game 1 (Pt 2)
Game 2 (Pt 1)
Game 2 (Pt 2)
2nd MD: Francois BOURRET/Kevin LI [CAN] vs. Hugo ARTHUSO/Alex TJONG [BRA]
1st MD: Adrian LIU/Derrick NG [CAN] vs. Daniel PAIOLA/Luiz Dos SANTOS [BRA]
(Thomas Cup - Semi Finals) USA vs. Canada
1st MS: Sattawat PONGNAIRAT [USA] vs. Joseph ROGERS [CAN]
2nd MD: Howard BACH/Phillip CHEW [USA] vs. Adrian LIU/Toby NG [CAN]
2nd MS: Howard SHU [USA] vs. Sergiy SHATENKO [CAN]
(Uber Cup - Finals) USA vs. Canada
1st WS: Rena WANG [USA] vs. Michelle LI [CAN]
2nd WS: Iris WANG [USA] vs. Joycelyn KO [CAN]
3rd WS: Jamie SUBANDHI [USA] vs. Christin TSAI [CAN]
1st WD: Eva LEE/Paula OBANANA [USA] vs. Alex BRUCE/Michelle LI [CAN]
2nd WD: Rena WANG/Jamie SUBANDHI [USA] vs. Joycelyn KO/Grace GAO [CAN]
That's it for this tournament! Thanks for visiting :) Until next time then... German Open 2012!