Adversity

Adversity

Hi Everyone!

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. 

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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!

Kevin

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Spokane Shuttlefreaks Badminton Camp!

HI Everyone! 

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. 

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Thank you to all of you making this badminton journey possible! 

Onward and Upward! 

Kevin  

GoFundMe

Brazil and Provincials

Hi Everyone!

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!

Brazil!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Thank you all for your support!

Gratefully,

Kevin Barkman

If you would like to donate you can do so through GoFundMe

Jamaica, OCN, Thunder Bay, Minneapolis, Calgary and Beyond!

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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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!

-Kevin

Sweaty Training

Sweaty Training

Hi Everyone!

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.

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Thank you everyone for your support!

Kevin

 

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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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