Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2012 All Englands

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?
After picking up our luggage, we went down to the London Underground Station in Heathrow (Terminals 1, 2, & 3) and bought tickets to get to London Euston. we had to transfer once, but after about an hour and 15 minutes, we got to London Euston Train Station without too much difficulty. The toughest part though was having to carry our luggage up many flights of stairs, so a warning to those who want to travel this way in the future! Regardless, we made it to the train station with plenty of time to spare so we had lunch there and waited for our train. We were a little confused about how the trains worked, because the departure time on one of the screens only listed the final destination and Birmingham (New Street Station) was only one of the stops. However, we found a really big board, which listed the times of the departing trains and all of the stops in between, so we made sure we got on the right train. We took Virgin trains, a faster train to Birmingham (has less stops) so the ride was about 1.5 hours only. The train ride went quite smoothly and we arrived at Birmingham New Street shortly after. We took a taxi to our hotel which wasn't too far away and apparently, I fluked out and booked the hotel that was right across the street from the National Indoor Arena (NIA), the venue for the All Englands :)

Nothing like the Sunday Roast with a drink for 5 GBP!
We stayed at the City Nites Apartment Hotels (me, Derrick, and Adrian) which was pretty much like an apartment. We had two bedrooms with two King beds, a living room, kitchen, and even a patio. It was a really good find as the accomodations were really nice. Unfortunately, they do not clean your rooms, but you do have the materials to clean your own stuff. They even have a laundry machine, though oddly placed in the kitchen. The only problem was that there weren't very many grocery stores nearby, only some express grocery places (ie Tesco Express) which was fair, but didn't off a wide arrange of choices. However there were many pubs in the area which all offered some good cheap food as an alternative. Then again... there's always Subway :)

Hey look... Canadians! :P
The NIA also has practice courts in its lower levels so we spent quite a bit of time there practicing. When it came to a practice on the main courts though, we were only given 20 minutes of court time, though I would suppose that's what everyone else got as well. Basically they would give you half a court per person, so if you have 2 players, you would only get half court for 20 minutes, if you have 4 players, you would get a full court for 20 minutes. Regardless, it was better hitting for 20 minutes than nothing, and they also offered us a tube of tournament shuttles for Canada to practice, which was really nice considering getting nothing in Germany.

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 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
XD R128 (Qualifier):
 KIM Sa Rang/CHOI Hye In [KOR] vs. Derrick NG/Alex BRUCE [CAN]
Full Match

WD R64 (Qualifier): Jenny WALLWORK/Gabrielle WHITE [ENG] vs. Alex BRUCE/Michelle LI [CAN]
Full Match

WS R32: LIU Xin [CHN] vs. Michelle LI [CAN]
Full Match

XD R32: Hendra SETIAWAN/Vita MARISSA [INA] vs. Toby NG/Grace GAO [CAN]
Full Match

MD R32: CAI Yun/FU Haifeng [CHN] vs. Adrian LIU/Derrick NG [CAN]
Full Match

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!

1 comment:

  1. So I've been reading a few of your blog posts now, and I've noticed a particularly disturbing trend; your diet. Now, I realize you're not posting pictures on a meal to meal basis, but should aspiring Olympians really be consuming pizzas, bowl noodles, hot dogs and the regular junk food? I may be overly analytical, but this speaks volumes as to how little you are willing to sacrifice for success. Say what you will about training and career changing decisions: if you're not even willing to forego junk food, you don't deserve to be a winner.

    Also, the notion that Canada should increase funding for athletes, even to a reasonable level, is ridiculous. It's simple supply and demand. Further taking into consideration how you (and other Canadian team members) spend their cash on food and flashy accessories, I would say Canada is right to deny funding. I'm all for encouraging and recognizing sporting activities, but is the national team anywhere close to achieving that?

    I'm sorry if I offended anyone, but I really felt this needed to be said.