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.

56922764_433079657466637_4495165011680821248_o

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.

IMG_7234

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. 

57390123_433073630800573_2209884166986661888_o

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!

56757379_2200906796641445_73113979899084800_o

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

Jamaica International

Jamaica International

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!

-Kevin

IMG_6089

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.

IMG_4527.JPG

Print

Thank you everyone for your support!

Kevin

 

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,”

IMG_8937

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.  

 

IMG_8995

Training Camp

The opportunity to learn from experts and those who have gone before you is a huge privilege. I think one of the things that separates the best from those are simply good is the willingness to learn, and the passion to make the most out of every opportunity. I may not be the best, or even close to it. But I hope that I pursue learning with that kind of passion. I hope I take as much advantage of every opportunity as possible. I am currently at Clearone training camp with the opportunity to learn from some of the greats of the sport, I don’t plan on making leaps. Improvement takes time and effort. But I hope to learn as much as I can fit into my head during this time, so during my daily training I have vision and knowledge to look back on. I can’t change everything that needs fixed in one week. But I hope I learn a lot and that the advice I get affects my training till I see improvement and can test and reevaluate. 

“You aren’t here to do play the easiest game, you are here to win. You are here to beat your opponent and that will usually mean doing the harder thing, and doing it better and harder than everyone else. But that’s the challenge isn’t it? To know where to try harder, and what to do better to win.” 

The Olympics is ongoing as well right now. After training hours are spent watching videos, looking at stats, and staring at draws. Toby Ng put it well when he told me “In the end, badminton is King.” What that means to me is that in the end no matter how fit you are, how fast you are, how determined you are, if you don’t play good /badminton/ you still can’t win. If you can’t play tactically, can’t keep the birds in, can’t find the rythm you still aren’t good enough. Because in the end, Badminton is king, and if you can’t play badminton the rest of the tools won’t help you. Sometimes you see fitter faster players lose to someone who plays smart and is tactically minded. Other times you will see someone with grit who keeps birds in beat someone who is a better player but simply lacks the drive to keep things in the court and possibly takes risks too soon. This kind of perfect balance, the determination, heart, skill, tactics, technique – that’s badminton. 

Training for me has become more than just putting in the time and effort, it’s the constant struggle to find the balance and the weak link in a game. The balance between speed and deception, strength and endurance, efficiency and effort, technique and simple determination, tactics and heart. There is always a weak link in any athlete, some part of their game that hinders everything else. Training for me is finding that weak link in myself and strengthening it to the point that some other weakness becomes apparent. It is getting on court and knowing how much to anticipate and read, and how much to grind through rallies. I am learning many technical and tactical skills from this camp, but I am also soaking in the experience of the coaches and their own knowledge of this balance that is badminton. 

I wanna send out my thanks to the people that make this journey possible. Every day, every training session is an opportunity, I pray I make the best of each.