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

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.

IMG_7858.JPG

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.

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. 

Canada Open

Canada Open

The Yonex Canada Open, MS loss in first round against Howard shu, MD loss in the Quarter Final against Toby Ng and Adrian Liu. 

Tournaments are a learning experience. They say fire refines, and it exposes weaknesses. I love competing. I love the tension in the air, and the crowd cheering. I love the challenge and putting my will against someone else’s. But when it’s all said and done and you walk away, winner or loser you have to take something away from the experience. The pressure hopefully revealed something. All the training and time and effort gets tested during tournaments, and while somethings prove their worth there are always weaknesses that get exposed. Places where technically you made a mistake, or tactically were not prepared. Maybe conditioning was an issue. 

In singles a lot of things became quite clear, through practice and competition. I haven’t had much sparing lately. My preparation consisted of lots of time in the gym and two and three against one practice on court along with the drills. I had very little to no game practice, or sparing. This showed through hesitant tactical decions and sometimes poor positioning. 

Weaknesses, mistakes, losses – they are all part of the road forward and reaching the next step always means growing through adversity and even mistakes. What comes next? How do I go about fixing or adapting to the things I have learned? How will I find more sparing and games? Get more competition? I don’t know yet, but those questions will be answered, one step at a time. 

I appreciate the help and support of those people helping me on this journey. I hope I can keep learning and growing, improving, getting stronger. Thanks all.

Spokane Parks & Rec Badminton Camp

Spokane Parks & Rec Badminton Camp

Day two of Spokane’s Parks and Recreation Badminton Camp just came to an end. I am of course tired, but also some what excited by the kids and their enthusiasm about badminton life in general. Their whole lives are ahead of them and they are just starting to explore what they could do with them.

It’s always inspiring to coach kids, though often a huge challenge at the same time. Many of the kids at the camp knew very little about badminton, so while sharing the love of the sport was great, it was often hard from the logistics side to cater everything to both those more advanced kids and those who were picking up a racket for the first time. But that’s what coaching is all about isn’t it? Drawing out the best in each and every one of the kids you have, no matter their goals, or skill level. In the end, coaching and teaching is seeing potential in people and working hard to draw it out and build and develop skills and tools to help  each kid reach their potential, and whatever their goals may be.

Today there was a kid who obviously had a talent for following instructions well, and was super attentive and focused, he didn’t like the fun games or the playing, but I knew he when he did drills that he would listen carefully and never need to be told anything twice. Who knows where that focus and attentiveness will take him? Or one kid who was a kind of social peace keeper and really good at talking with people and engaging even the shyest kids. Badminton is another way to help him develop those skills, whether he uses them in badminton or some other place it life, it’s a tool and gift worth noticing, encouraging, and growing. 

There is a good chance none of the kids at the camp will be Olympians, or represent their country internationally. Though you never know who you may inspire to take it to the next level. At the end of the day I hope each kid learns a little more about badminton, and a lot more about working hard, interacting with others, and focusing and building skills for success.

Coaching isn’t training, but sometimes it is a good inspiration for me as I seek to chase my own dreams and reach my own goals.