This year heading into Nationals I had very few expectations. Dealing with a fractured ankle and torn ligaments I went into competition hoping to not get re-injured. I knew that my hopes of winning were, at this point, unfounded due to my inability to train as I needed to, as well as some limitations from my ankle. I couldn’t push off properly in defense, or in my late forehand corner. Still, I felt I should go to Nationals. It is a time when the whole Canadian badminton community gathers. It is more than just a competition, it is also a time for friends to reunite, awards to be given, and meetings to be had. I ended up going to Calgary a week early and training at Gao Badminton and coaching their team. It was great to invest in the kids, spar, share what I know, and spend a lot of time at the court with the kids.
In the competition I was pleasantly surprised by how well I played. I won my first match in a three set, fifty-three minute game. Despite not being able to move as well as I would like I was able to play tactically well and play some higher quality shots to win. I was reminded how much I love competing. I love the atmosphere and the way that competition brings out different sides of people. It is a unique opportunity to treat everyone with respect, including yourself.
The second match I played against Joseph Rogers, a very skilled and experienced athlete. I was able to play decently well, but in the end he was able to capitalize on my injury. He used his experience and power to really push me into spots that were tough with my ankle. It was tough to lose the match, however I am happy with my ability to compete with the best in the country so soon after my injury. There are more competitions coming up, and I am always looking ahead.
Injuries are brutal. It is hard to struggle with confidence as I get back on court knowing I haven’t been able to train as much as would be ideal. It is tough to try to work within the confines of rehab and still try to improve. However, being injured has shown me just how many people I have supporting me. Both in the world of athletics, as well as people helping out emotionally, spiritually, and having my back on those tough days. I have had a lot of very professional help coming off of fracturing my ankle. Eastman Therapy has been a huge blessing getting me back on the court, and Sweaty Training has done an amazing job getting me back in shape. I still have a long ways to go, and I am so thankful to work with professional and experienced people. It has been great to coach and train at Gao Badminton Tao, they have really treated me like family and been considerate of my injury and helping me get court fit again. Overall I am extremely thankful for each and every person who has my back. Being injured really highlighted all the support I have. I am excited to come back stronger, and continue to share my love of the sport with the next generation.
I have some exciting news! This week I joined the Sweaty Training team thanks to a generous sponsorship by Sweaty Training. I will be training under Jeff Eides, the founder of Sweaty Training. Coach Jeff is a renowned strength and conditioning coach who graduated from University of Winnipeg. Coach Jeff has worked with everyone from enthusiastic youth athletes to professional athletes. I am very privileged to work under him as I recover from my ankle injury and move ahead to the next competitions, nationally and internationally. This is a huge step for me as an athlete. Proper strength and conditioning is a key part in any athletes development. It is a foundation I need in order to improve my performance, as well as to continue training without injury.
I will be proudly representing the Sweaty Training team as I compete nationally and internationally, as well as when I coach.
I want to thank Jeff and Sweaty Training for the opportunity! I am excited for what comes next.
In other news, rehab for my ankle is coming along well. I am able to hit the gym a lot these days, and I am on court a fair bit working on skills, and very controlled footwork.
Thank you everyone for your support!
Hey everyone, here is an update that I posted to my Gofundme, but forgot to post here. More exciting updates coming shortly!
Update from Kevin: Saskatoon and the (un)fortunate events that followed.
Saskatoon was my first tournament of the year traveling with Team Manitoba. I was most senior of all the athletes this time- a new generation is coming up! Some of these athletes were ones I had coached in the past as well. It was great to interact with the team and build team spirit. Manitoba came away with one silver medal and lots of tough matches.
After winning my first two games in Saskatoon at the Prairie Elite, I slipped and fell, injuring my ankle quite severely. The doctors on site suspected that I broke it. The nurses who looked at my ankle at the hospital also assumed the same. After X-Rays it was confirmed that it was /not/ broken and instead was just a severe high ankle sprain. However new bone scans show that it is fractured in two places. I am currently unable to work and stuck in a boot and on crutches. However, this has let me get some other things in order as I’m catching up on communication, creating a stronger training plan, and researching best practices to continue the journey.
This injury has also made some tournament decisions very easy. I will not be playing the Alberta Elite, or the Santo Domingo International, or the Herb Richard in Manitoba. Instead, I will be focusing on rehabbing my ankle and working on getting my shoulder and left foot in top condition after their last injuries as well. I am also continuing to coach as much as I can while on crutches and helping those athletes who are still able to compete.
Thank you everyone for your support! I look forward to getting back on court stronger and more determined than ever!
Going to the LA for the USA International tournaments is always a highlight as I get to see family from my mom’s side. But it is also a great opportunity to catch up with my friends from Pan America and Europe as most of them enjoy coming to the USA. This year had result highlights as well as I made the quarter final in Men’s Singles. I knew before leaving for LA that the tournament was going to be hard for me because the draw I had was really tough. I played the number two seed of the tournament from Peru in the first round. Daniel La Torre Regal is a great athlete. I won in a tough three set match. After losing the first quite badly I pulled my game together and fought to a win in an exhausting hour plus long match.
In the second round I played a fellow Canadian. In the first set I came from 20-18 behind to win, only to lose the second 26-24 after having a game point at 20-19. I was able to really push forward, using my physical game to win the third. However, early in the third set I slipped quite badly and smashed my heel. In the adrenaline of the match I felt only minor pain and pushed through it. However the next morning I was barely able to walk. I did all I knew for recovery, and went to the tournament doctor to get cold spray and everything possible before my quarter final match. I attempted to play through. Sadly after the first smash it was apparent I could not move without extreme pain. I played through the match to avoid the fine for withdrawing, (which I was later found I was misinformed about) but was unable to put up any kind of fight.
The ranking points I earned should put me between 280 and 290 in the world. I should find out this coming week. A first time breaking 300 in world in men’s singles! It is still a long ways to go to top 100 which is needed for Olympic qualification. But as funds comes in I will continue to play tournaments and gain ranking, and see what comes next.
Being in Manitoba has been a hard transition in some ways. Training hasn’t always gone as planned, but I thought it was the next move for me. There have been some huge positives from the coaching side including working up north on reservations. On the training side I have run into some obstacles. I have been focusing on improving my fitness– the 1% I have control of now. Both my matches ended with my fitness being a key component to finishing out the three sets. It is a neat confirmation that I am moving the right direction.
I am doing all I can to get my foot to heal, while coaching this week in Winnipeg. Next week I head to Calgary to coach for Gao badminton.
If you would like to support my journey you can email me, or donate at the GofundMe set up to help me.
Thank you to everyone helping and supporting me!
One of the great privileges of being a coach is going into remote places to help jumpstart athletic programs. We got to do this in northern Manitoba.
We took a small plane in and landed on a gravel airstrip many hours late of our scheduled arrival time. We were met by the head of education. We got to talking right away and he said something fascinating. He said, and I paraphrase, “sports gives kids freedom. And beyond that it gives them skills and identity to move ahead in life. In a hopeless world sports gives kids opportunity and skills. Sports has saved this community,”
Sports has the ability to give kids hope through opportunity to go places, get university scholarships, and it gives positive attitude and identity. One of the huge positives of sports is giving kids mastery of something and the ability to learn. Those skills reach far beyond sports. Many impoverished kids struggle to find identity, or opportunities where they can succeed. Sports becomes something to focus and thrive at while also creating opportunities to get out of town, meet people, and open up new opportunities.
Playing professional badminton on the international circuit while coaching kids gives me a unique opportunity to share my own experiences and motivate and inspire kids to pursue their callings, wether in sports or someplace else. Hope is about holding onto the idea that things can change. Sports is all about creating change, in yourself, and in your teammates.
Yesterday my play at Brazil International ended with a tough loss to Italy in the last 32. I gained 920 world ranking points in the process.
I am really pleased with the training and my adjustments that I made here, as well as my overall competition performance. Losing is never fun, but I am playing at a good level, and only improving. I am pleased to be competing with people who train full time and compete at three or four times as many International events as me. This is a good sign. I am doing the right things and making progress.
I leave on Sunday for Cuba. Looking forward to improving on my performance and continuing to push my limits.
I have a long journey in front of me–good thing I like to sweat! haha. If you are interested in supporting me, check out my gofundme. or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you everyone.
While training in China I got to play the Malaysia International. It was a rough match because I ate some bad food and found myself quite sick going into the game. However, it was a good experience to see the level at a small international tournament in Asia. it was quite different than playing in Pan America.
If you are interested in helping me continue my journey please consider donating here: https://www.gofundme.com/kevinbarkmanbadminton