Yonex K&D Graphic USA International

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!

Kevin

Hope and Sports

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,”

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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.  

 

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Brazil International

Brazil International

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.

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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 kibarkman@gmail.com.

Thank you everyone.

 

Lilac Tournament

This past weekend was the Spokane Lilac Badminton Tournament. It was a great tournament with a real highlight being the participation of Olympian Toby Ng. The Spoksman review wrote up a great article on the tournament as well which can be found here.

In the end I lost to Toby in both singles and mixed doubles finals, but won the men’s doubles with him.

I love the atmosphere of small tournaments. Everyone was friendly and relaxed. The competition was great, but at the end of the day we are all friends.

Eric Lee and all the volunteers did an amazing job of organizing the event and keeping it running smoothly.

Since the US Open I could see an improvement in strength, which was an encouragement. It’s always encouraging to see some things moving forward. I thank Workoutanywhere, Rundlefit- Justin and Jessica Rundle for those improvements. They have been great working with me daily to improve my physical game. There is still a lot to be done, but forward motion is the first step! My shot quality was quite low this tournament due to not having much on court training recently, but hopefully I can move forward with that as well. One step at a time.

Toby is always a great athlete to learn from and after our matches he gave me a lot of great advice to help me move forward. Key number one: don’t show emotion to your opponent. When you do, you feed their mental game, giving them an edge. I have a lot to work on before my next event. I am excited to be back at training.

My next event planned is the K&D Graphic USA international tournament on December 14-18, if possible. If you want to help me get there check out my gofund me page here

Thanks to all my sponsors and the individuals who are making this possible.

Team Effort

People ask me all the time why I am where I am. 

I think the answer is somewhat complicated, and I am sure it a huge mixture of all kinds of factors when you boil it down. But at the very heart it is because I think that this place has potential. I think that students, that people, that I, all have a potential. I think that I can get somewhere, not because I practice enough, but because I have people behind me while I practice enough. I listened to an interview with Malcolm Gladwell last night and he made the point that his “ten thousand hour rule” was not intended to communicate that if you simply practice enough you will become an expert, but rather that to get enough practice to be an expert  you must have a lot of people sacrificing to get you there. When you see an Olympic athlete competing for a medal at the Olympics you shouldn’t just see one person who worked their way to being the best, but rather one person who worked hard because everyone around him sacrificed in order for them to be able to practice enough. The athlete’s parents sacrificed huge amounts of time and money driving their kid to practice and helping them get opportunities, and then somewhere along the way other people pitched in with money and time, and coaches offered expertise, and most likely some local business man decided this young athlete had a dream worth putting money on. There were probably tutors in highschool to help the kid keep up with school during their busy competeing season, and freinds who helped push the athlete, and some teammates who demanded full effort every day. 

I get a lot of people who tell me I am crazy for giving everything I know up to train and coach and live around badminton. But there are also those people who have helped me get as far as I am, and those who will help me get farther. From coaches who demand excellence, to my parents giving up sleep to take me to late night practices when I was a junior, and my teammates who wouldn’t let me quit, and the people who decided that they could put money into sharing a dream with me. 

Now there are those who will keep helping me forward. From the people giving me meals, and the coaches who waive a few fees so I can keep coming to practice, and the sponsors who are helping me, and those who will decide to jump on board for the next step. There are the teammates who aren’t okay with anything but my best, and the coaches who demand I do better, the physical therapists who help my body not break, and the friends who keep me from going crazy. Everyone is playing a part in my success. I am here, and I am working my best because I owe it to everyone to do so. Because I love it, and I wouldn’t do it any differently. I coach, I teach, I hope to inspire the next generation because there were so many who did that for me and I can do nothing less in return. 

For every step forward I take there is a whole team of people helping me.  I hope I am also part of that team that helps the next generation do the same thing. 

Cheers to everyone who is chasing dreams, everyone who made it to the top of their profession, and most importantly, cheers to all the people who make it possible for each of us. Cheers to the parents living off coffee and ramen so their kids can go to practice, the coaches staying up too late so their students can make it, the business men who dare to take a chance on someone who hasn’t made it yet, the teammates who push each other, the part time athletes making competition worthwhile, the friends who send corny encouraging texts at midnight, the grandparents who are proud of their grandchildren, the aunts and uncles who come to cheer, and everyone else who plays a part in this crazy life.