69th National Badminton Championships!

First Badminton Nationals

Game 1 (pictured above)

On the 21st of December 2021, I got a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in a badminton tournament. But not just any tournament… THE INNAUGURAL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS in Sri Lanka!! I had been playing badminton ever since I was a child, around 5 or 6 years old. I played consistently till I was in the fourth grade where I was advised not to continue it since I had picked up tennis and my coach said that badminton was interfering with my technique because I had learned to be very mobile from the wrist by playing badminton.

Many, many years later, having only continued the game in passing by either playing against cousins or friends in the odd friendly, I picked it up again in the 10th grade. I trained both in and outside of school in SAISA and a weekend endeavor to get into form. Unfortunately, SAISA got cancelled just as I had gotten selected for the team due to Covid, but I consistently continued my classes till lockdown was imposed. Thereafter training sessions weren’t as easy to come by because the courts remained shut and the classes were discontinued undecidedly. So after nearly 2 years of not playing badminton I decided to give it another shot. Again, my involvement had been a bit on and off because of the pandemic situation, so you can only imagine my surprise when I got told that I have been selected to play in the championships on a call with my mom!

Now don’t get me wrong, I was equal parts delighted and terrified because not only was this on very short notice, but I hadn’t played in around a year. My fitness was also decidedly not at its peak because my other involvements in sports were much smaller because of the lack of training sessions provided. So you can only imagine the expression on my face when I was told ‘oh its in a week, and you have one training session to prepare!’ WHAT?!! Oh, and just as conveniently, my little brother was selected too, but he had been practicing a little more regularly because his age group trained earlier on in the season.

My first and final training session began the weekend before the championship. It was stressful to say the least, there were at least 10 kids there (none from my age group) that were practicing away as if their life depended on it. Keeping in mind, that badminton wasn’t my best sport, those kids practiced nearly religiously and it was rather intimidating to watch knowing that my competition would be just as intense if not tougher to face. I ran the drills, played nearly 4 games and had to re-learn the rules of the game, ON TOP OF learning the tournament procedures and additional rules. I was little bit overwhelmed with the new information but I kept a fresh mindset. I wasn’t as practiced as the others, but this is great exposure and I was going to try my best but not come away disappointed.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Game day rolled around and I headed to the arena. It was massive to say the least with around 8 courts in the center surrounded by seating areas for the fans. The nerves were creeping up on me again but my mom asserted me and reminded me to stay calm. The games were running late and mine got delayed by a full 5 hours! It was difficult staying patient because I had limited battery on my device left meaning I couldn’t even listen to music to kill the time. When the time came, I headed onto the court to play 3 games. I won the first match, tied and won the tie-breaker set in the second and lost my last match against a really good opponent. My first two games were nail bitingly close and I would admit that my last opponent was rather well clear of me. Best of all I wasn’t disappointed as I headed off the pitch, I had tried exceedingly hard and even played with a broken sole on one of my shoes! Given the circumstances I felt super proud of myself and I could call myself a national badminton player! This would also most likely be my last chance to have done that seeing as I’ll be in university this time next year. But it truly was a phenomenal experience and I also have a huge thank you to say that regard to my friends who cheered me on and checked on me consistently throughout the day :))

My unofficial cheer squad

 

 

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