2015 Sudirman Cup

The 2015 Sudirman Cup took place from May 10–17 in Dong Guan, China. The Sudirman Cup is the World Mixed Team Championships in which each countries competes in one event each (MS, WS, MD, WD, & XD) for a total of 5 matches, and in the final stages, the team match would end with the first country to win 3 matches. Based on the qualifying criteria, the team that represented Canada this year was the same team as the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and also the upcoming 2015 Pan Am Games team, with Andrew D’Souza, Adrian Liu, Derrick Ng, and myself representing the men, and Michelle Li, Rachel Honderich, Alex Bruce, and Phyllis Chan representing the women. Leading our team was coach and manager Ram Nayyar, and we were set to compete against Netherlands, Singapore, and Spain in our pool. I’m sure most of you know that anyway, so let’s get more interesting before I bore you to death.

Flying to Sudirman Cup was painful, especially that first 12.5 hour flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong. However, considering those who flew from the East side of Canada, I guess I shouldn’t complain, but I will anyway :P I didn’t mind flying to Hong Kong because there’s free wifi and the food court was good (from previous experiences), but I was quite let down. I ended up ordering a “3 BBQ Meat + Rice” combo, which came out to be close to $8-9 CAD, but the meats were so lean that I think they were just bones. I decided to spend the remainder of my HKD on Ajisen Ramen, but they also let me down when their ramen was clumped into a ball of batter. Imagine making pasta and having a clump of noodles fuse together into a big ball of starch. That’s what I was dealing with. AND it cost about $15 CAD! I wanted to complain, but I was too tired. Honestly, I think I’m just spoiled in Canada :)

Alex, Phyllis and I were on the Air Canada flight to Hong Kong, whereas Ram left an hour earlier to Beijing, but we found out that his flight was delayed due to weather conditions (which we will come back to), so we ended up arriving earlier than he did (he was delayed like 7 hours, poor guy). We arrived after a short 40 minute flight to Guangzhou and met up with Andrew D’Souza before trekking to Dong Guan on a long 80-90 minute bus ride. Apparently, I found out that we could have taken a train or bus from Hong Kong instead, but Travelocity wanted to fly me, so those who may compete in Dong Guan in the future can consider that option. We made it in quite late, checked in with little difficulties, and that was the end of about 18 hours of traveling. Afternoon practice at noon the next day!

 (It also doubles as a basketball arena so it's a very nice stadium!)

Breakfast was included in our hotel and it was quite good, although I find most breakfasts are quite good the first day, and by the 10th day, you really don’t care for breakfast anymore, even if it’s a buffet. The food was very similar every day and they had both Asian and Western food options. There was an egg chef and they were quite peculiar in that they would throw away eggs that weren’t perfect, which caused quite the egg line up that first morning. There was also a noodle station which gave a choice of noodle and some veggies, but unfortunately, no meat. Additionally, tea or coffee was offered, but only with evaporated milk (which actually makes it taste really good). My typical breakfast choice is 2-3 eggs (protein source), sweet potato and/or beans (“slow” carbs AKA complex carbs), and some veggies with my noodle in soup (white carbs, but I’m an athlete and I have training… so yeah). Of course, I traveled with my USANA supplements, including the HealthPak, which conveniently packages my daily multivitamin with additional calcium and antioxidant booster, into AM and PM packs. Honestly, I would be lying to myself if I said I could eat healthy in China. There is a noticeable lack of protein, vegetables are limited, and everything comes with white rice or noodles to make meals more calorically dense. And… beware the bacon: it contains pork.

 Practice was pretty good as we got a brief session on the main courts. There’s a slight draft, but nothing too extreme for the most part. Later that first night, we had an opening banquet which we tried to dress up for, but we were one of the only countries that ended up dressing up, as all other countries were in team tracksuits. We realized this blunder when they asked for 2 athletes to represent Canada (Andrew and Rachel) AND they wanted us in our track jackets. Other than a terrible translation error in the athlete oath (“for the glory of archery”, instead of ‘badminton’), the dinner was run fairly well as it was done buffet style. It seemed rather odd to do a buffet style dinner in a Chinese restaurant IN CHINA, the food was not too bad except for the same observations from breakfast: limited vegetable choice, protein sources were limited (a lot of bones in most of the meats), and lots of rice/noodles, mostly of the ‘white’ variety. However, the red wine was good :) The Red Bull was not, as it wasn’t carbonated. Think of Red Bull here, but super flat. Bleh.

The pool play in the tournament went pretty well, as most of the teams we faced were fairly even. Against Netherlands, Alex and I had a big win against their Mixed team, which gave us a lead to start things off. Unfortunately, we lost the MS and MD, and after Michelle tied it up, we lost the WD to lose 3-2. It’s funny how the other ties all end in a similar way. Against Singapore, Derrick and Adrian had a huge win against Singapore, coming back in the 3rd to take the match! However, we lost the XD and MS, and although Michelle tied it up again, we lost the WD. Against Spain, we were hoping to turn things around but we lost the XD in 3 sets, which I felt was a bad loss. Andrew gave a good fight to take Pablo Abian to 3 sets, but couldn’t get the win. Basically, it came down to Michelle Li taking on the 2014 World Champion to save us from losing 3-0, and… she did! An amazing match to watch and an incredible fight by Michelle to stay in the game after losing the 1st set, she pulled off an upset and defeated Carolina Marin in 3 sets! Derrick and Adrian came through and dusted off the Spanish MD team, and it came down to Women’s Doubles again. Despite taking the first set, Spain came through to win the match, winning 3-2. Overall, I suppose it wasn’t so bad because we lost every tie 3-2, but I wasn’t too happy with my performance. I think I can do better. As for the others, you’ll have to ask them to blog about their experiences :P

For the cross-over, we came out to play Brazil, and it started off with XD again. We have defeated the team relatively easily in Peru, but perhaps the pressure of playing a team tournament got to us. We ended up losing in a close 3 set match and I suppose it was a tremendous wake-up call to me. At some point you have to decide when things are unacceptable and find a way to make changes. This loss to me was unacceptable and I am making moves to make sure things like this don’t happen again. It’s not a blame game; it’s a do-whatever-it-takes-so-this-doesn’t-happen-again kind of mentality. Sure, it will make my job harder because if we can lose to these teams, then it gives other teams confidence because it shows we can crack under pressure. My job is to seal up the cracks and crush anybody who wants to challenge us, especially in preparation for the Pan Am Games. ‘Do whatever it takes’ involves throwing out my ego (i.e. stop keeping score), so I do everything in my power to ensure things are trending a favourable way. For example, if Alex is getting service faulted an average of 3-times per match, it’s my fault for not working with serves with her before and after matches. Keeping score would mean that it’s her problem to fix on her own because it’s her serve. Ultimately, we win as a team, or lose as a team. Yes, that’s how much a hate losing. #rantover

Anyway, the rest of the team picked things up, with Andrew and Rachel picking up the MS & WS, and Adrian and Derrick to close off the win in the MD. Overall, the result may not be what we wanted, but I think many of us came out with a breakthrough win, most notably Michelle’s victory, but it really was a breakthrough for Derrick and Adrian, myself and Alex, and probably Andrew D’Souza, as his ranking is significantly lower than all his other opponents. Rachel also avenged her defeat from last year’s Brazil International, which would even out their head-to-head record in case they play again in the future.

Unfortunately, I have only recorded my own matches (except against Brazil, where we forgot to bring a tripod), and I will only be recording and uploading my matches in the future as well. My original intention was to show other athletes that it was something they could do as well, in hopes they have footage for themselves to review, and something to give themselves a bit more exposure for their own purposes (e.g. sponsorship, developing a fan-base).

(Adult Normal Kungfu Turtles... or not.)

Some other things from the tournament include the turtle/shark tank they had in the hotel lobby. It was pretty cool to see the turtles and sharks interact peacefully, although some sharks were trying to bite the turtles except they have had their teeth removed (I was told). Additionally, I would like to acknowledge some of the people I got to meet in Dong Guan, especially Joseph for taking us out for dinner, getting us in to use his fitness club, and taking us out shopping and showing us a bit of the city! It was a great time in Dong Guan, so I’ll attach a few more pictures and caption them accordingly. Thanks for visiting my blog and stay posted for next time!

(Chips taste weird, but the milk tea and milk tea Vitasoy are so awesome they would make me fat)

(Fancy dinner! Thank you Joseph for your kindness and hospitality!)

(Spicy... but like mouth-numbing spicy! Spring chicken was delicious for only about $6 USD, and the dessert: mango, herbal jelly, + mango sago was amazing. Except it was too small :P )

(Story: So apparently is was raining quite a bit in Dong Guan, but like a torrential down-pour on some days. Here are some pictures from going back from the venue to the hotel, where it was flooded in some parts of the road. Apparently, the car thinks it can be a boat. Another time it happened was when we had lunch at a nearby place and they wanted to leave early to nap before playing against Singapore in the evening. I opted to wait because it was pouring outside, so Derrick and I took a minute to decide what to do. Fortunately for us, the restaurant people offered us umbrellas, so we were laughing our way back to the hotel, especially when we saw the others trying to duck and cover whenever they could, and run back to the hotel. Hooray for patience (and good luck)! However, the final rain story was being delayed 2 hours in Guangzhou airport before flying to Beijing, so me and Ram may risk missing our flight home. We arrived at 3:30pm, with our Air Canada flight leaving at 4:05pm. Unfortunately, we had to take a bus to the terminal, take a train to the International terminal, go through immigration, go through security, and it was pretty much 3:57pm and a sprint to the gate. Fortunately, we made it somehow... I'm not sure if Air Canada was waiting for us, or if they were delayed (heh), but it worked out and I'm grateful. Thank you Air Canada! No thanks to Air China for not being able to communicate with them. "Can you please contact Air Canada and let them know we are on our way?"; "No, we can't do that." Wow... anyway, our bags missed the flight, but we got them the next day. Phew...)

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