I haven’t been home much for the past few months, but I just arrived at my last tournament of the year. The Yonex K&D Graphic USA International Challenge in Orange California. I am in the main draw in all three events. I play against Belgium in singles, and Chinese Taipei in both doubles and mixed.
Due to recent financial challenges I am not playing the Toronto Open in January, so this is my last big tournament until the National Championships in February.
I am very pumped to play. Had a few tough matches in the past few weeks, and some good training. I am on the right track and excited to take steps forward.
You can follow the draws here : https://bwf.tournamentsoftware.com/sport/tournament?id=32085A06-7D4C-45E1-AF4E-989B57508B92
And I will be uploading my matches here : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI8834Clt301lNPF6l9-BQg?view_as=subscriber
You can help support me here on Gofundme : https://www.gofundme.com/f/kevin-barkman-hope-through-sports
Thank You everyone for your support!
Onward and Upward!
Training is always tough. Sometimes you get worse before you get better. I feel that these days. I have been spending a lot of time working on certain skills, but finding myself playing with less intensity than I want. It takes time for those skills to become solidified and habitual.
However, with a few tournaments under my belt I am feeling more confident and comfortable playing again.
I qualified for all three events at the Yonex K&D Graphic USA International Challenge. I am playing doubles with Imran Wadia and mixed doubles with Isabelle Rusli. But before that I am playing the Yonex Alberta Elite Series.
Thanks for your support!
Support me here:
First of all. Thank you to each of you for your support! I couldn’t stay in badminton without your help and support!
Guatemala international has come to an end.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to compete. I won my first round and lost in the round of 16 to the number one seed and eventual winner Kevin Cordon.
In mixed Isabelle Rusli and I made it to the quarter finals where we lost to the number 2 seeds and eventual winners from Brazil. Imran had to withdraw from our doubles due to an unfortunate wrist injury.
I am very thankful for the opportunity to compete in Guatemala. I improved on last years performance as well which is fantastic. I showed that I am playing at a higher level than before and winning matches internationally for which I am thankful. There is still a lot of work to do to challenge the top athletes in the world. Every day I get out and I work towards that; Improving the things I am weak at, and strengthening my assets.
I am back in Calgary for an Alberta Series tournament and then Atlanta Elite Series is next!
A lot of people have asked me about my withdrawal from this past Prairie Elite Series tournament in Winnipeg. It was a tough decision, but one made carefully with lots of input from doctors and coaches. Since my hamstring pull at the US International, I have had minor bugging knee issues. Due to that and various other factors, everyone decided it would be best for me to pull out and focus on the Guatemala International coming up in two weeks. It was a tough call as the Prairie Elite is the first tournament of the Canadian National Elite Series circuit. However, I need to stay healthy and keep improving, which can’t happen if I am injured. I am so thankful for the host of professionals helping me make these tough decisions.
My dad returned from safety stand down (a gathering of high-ups in aviation to discuss safety) and brought these words of wisdom “Glad to be here.” It has taken me a long time to wrap my head around the ramifications of such an outlook, but this week it really hit me: I AM glad to be here, and that changes a lot. Let me explain.
Badminton, like all sports, is tough mentally. There are huge ups and downs that come with wins and losses, good performances or devastating injuries. Training at this level means pushing my body to its limit quite often. I did not begin this journey in the greatest shape- I had a broken leg and ankle that needed recovering from last year. The battle forward has been full of minor setbacks, but also great improvement. It is not easy, and it’s not easy to stay positive while fighting off injury and making tough calls about competing. However, I am continually reminded that I am glad to be here, and that makes all the difference.
“Glad to be here” is an outlook that doesn’t make excuses; it acknowledges the huge blessing it is to be where we are. It makes sure that we use every moment to the best of our ability to move ahead. Being glad to be here means not getting hung up on adversity, but instead being thankful for it.
The last year has been full of adversity as I decided to pursue badminton full time. (That doesn’t mean I don’t work other jobs, it means I try to be involved in badminton as an athlete and a coach as much as possible). I broke my ankle, took a long recovery, dealt with minor related injuries, like a pulled hamstring and knee injury, missed work and training, and struggled through finances. Yet when I look back I am thankful for every struggle. Through the injuries I have found a great group of people at Sweaty Training who have my back, and continue to help me get my body ready for world competition fitness. I started coaching and training at Gao Badminton and have been extremely blessed by the club and by Coach Gao and Coach Grace Gao’s help. They have walked me through getting in court shape and coming up with a long term plan, while giving me the daily on court training I need to make forward progress. Dynamic Chiropractic and Sports Therapy in Steinbach has also generously given me a sponsorship and worked with me in my recovery and in planning the next steps of training to avoid more injuries.
I have learned a lot about training, about building my body up, about rest, recovery, and diet. None of that would have happened without adversity.
I am glad to be here. Thank you for joining me on this crazy journey, and for continuing to support me through it all.
If you would like to support me, check out the GoFundMe or contact me about sponsorship opportunities!
Onward and upward!
Quick Update before the Yonex Canada Open starts tomorrow. I am currently 4th in qualifying and will play Tuesday morning. Later today I will have my first practice in the venue! Here is a link to my match last year at Canada Open against Heo Kwang Hee of South Korea. I have come a long ways since then, and I will keep moving ahead!
The past week I had the privilege of helping coach a badminton camp in Spokane WA for Shuttlefreaks. Four days of helping kids improve and working with great people! This year Shuttlefreaks ran the camp apart from the Spokane Parks and Rec as we had done in previous years. This meant less advertising, and less revenue. However we had 21 kids which was more than enough for the number of courts we had rented. The kids improved a lot. The focus of the camp was on the foundations of badminton, as well as being self disciplined and being respectful to ourselves and our teammates through the way we focused, worked, and treated others.
Thank you to all of you making this badminton journey possible!
Onward and Upward!
I am writing to say thanks for investing in my badminton journey and success. The past 6 weeks have been a time of good forward motion and growing returns. Thanks for investing– here’s what I’ve been doing!
I spent three weeks in Calgary training and coaching at Gao Badminton in April. They have graciously sponsored all my training which has been a huge blessing. To prepare for Brazil International Challenge I trained both with the group and many private lessons from Grace Gao, a former Olympian. From Calgary I flew to Sao Paulo, Brazil and got a ride to Campinas where the Brazil International Challenge was held.
I got there on Tuesday morning, checked into the hotel and went to practice. I stayed with Kari Gunnarsson from Iceland as well as B.R. Sankeerth from Canada. We practiced together Tuesday and Wednesday morning before I played my first match Wednesday evening at 5:30. I lost the first set but won the next two, progressing to the next round. I played the second round half an hour later and ended up losing in a hard-fought, two set game. I battled some calf cramps but other than that played well. That Friday I flew back to Calgary, picked up my car and drove to Manitoba!
Manitoba Provincial Championships
At the Manitoba Provincial Championships I played all three events. Mens singles, Mens doubles with Ryan Giesbrecht, and Mixed doubles with Mélanie Curé. I made the Mens singles final, but lost to Thien Vo in the final. I won my doubles final with Ryan Giesbrecht, also against Thien and his partner Chris White. In mixed, we lost in the quarter finals to the eventual finalists.
The Mens singles final was a great match, and one where I felt I played to my full current potential.
I am improving my game at a great rate, for which I am very thankful. Coming back from the injury has been hard, but it has also helped me refocus and I believe I will be stronger than before.
two weeks I also finished my fitness testing and body composition with Sweaty Training. I have made good progress since the injury. We are looking at increasing the rate of progress now that my ankle is healing up more. I also got a new off court program with this in mind, which I am very excited about.
Thank you all for your support!
If you would like to donate you can do so through GoFundMe
The life of a coach is nomadic, and the life of an athlete is more so. I have been traveling a lot since I returned from Jamaica mid March. In fact I was home less than twelve hours after landing from Jamaica before heading up to northern Manitoba to OCN. The next weekend I was in Thunder Bay playing a fun tournament and making contacts for future clinics and coaching. From there I went to Minneapolis to play a tournament. I did okay there making semis in both singles and doubles and winning the mixed consul. Two days later I was on the road to Calgary, where I am now.
Minneapolis came quickly on the heels of the other trips. It ended up being a great tournament and I got to test my on court training and fitness. The training with Sweaty Training really showed as I was able to compete in three events without crashing. However, I made a lot of mistakes and struggled with some of the shots that are my bread and butter. This makes me even happier to be working these days with Gao Badminton in Calgary on my on court game.
I am excited to be working on the on-court part of my game with Coach Gao and Gao Badminton as well as helping coach the team. The opportunity to train and coach is huge. Gao Badminton has been generous in their support of me which I am very grateful for.
I am continuing to work with Jeff at Sweaty Training to improve my fitness and strength. There is always a gym nearby and always work to be done!
Brazil International Challenge is coming up the first week in May and I am hoping to be playing my best by then. The draw is tough this year and I am only in the qualifying draw this time.
Thank you to everyone for your support!
Onward and upward!
The Jamaica International came to an early end for me. I knew I was up against a tough opponent ranked much, much higher than me. Being my first international tournament after my injury I was not too sure what to expect. The weather there was about 30C outside with 80-90% humidity, and much higher temperatures inside the gym. During practice this felt very hot and I could feel myself dragging a bit towards the end of practices.
The first set of competition went quite well. I felt I moved quite well, attacked well, followed my game plan. However, by the second set the heat was paying its toll on me. I felt light-headed and my head began to pound. I knew I was overheating but tried to play through it. I couldn’t, and fell very flat the second set.
You have a lot of emotions after a match like that. I wanted to test myself after my injury, and I did that. I performed well the first set, staying focused and sticking to my game plan. But it is a great disappointment to fall so flat at the end. Rewatching the video confirms that the second set I made 21 mistakes and struggled to breathe. My face was red and I felt heat radiating off me.
I still had juice in my legs, but no way to access it. How do I manage the extreme heat when most of my training in winter is in gyms at 16C? That is the next question to be answered.
I stayed with a good friend Milan in a university dorm at the University of the West Indies. That was a unique experience. We stayed with the Peru and Guatemala teams which was also fantastic. Over the past few tournaments I have made friends with both teams. I also made new friends with two athletes from Congo which was exciting.
I am back home to Manitoba now after spending last weekend at OCN community coaching with a multi-sport team. I am excited to get back to training and coaching and moving head!
Onward and upward!
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!