It has been an unforgettable journey. 4 days, 3 nights, 2 partners, 1 team. Looking back, all the nerves, excitement, support, and pride are still alive in my vision of the 2023 APAC Badminton Tournament. The blood, sweat, and tears I put in the season paid off as I was able to compete fiercely and play my best games in the tournament against the five invited international schools from Shanghai and Beijing. Overcoming challenges like sore muscles, low energy, disappointing results, and frustrating emotions that accumulated over the three days, I gained a better understanding of the importance of resilience, adaptability, and teamwork as the experience became a valuable investment in my personal growth.
After enjoying the opening ceremony that passed me a sense of responsibility for representing Concordia, our team jumped right into the atmosphere of competition as we warmed up to prepare for the games against our first opponent, WAB, the host of APAC this year. Realizing the opponent’s advantage of playing on their home courts, our coaches provided us with a useful strategy to get more familiar with the scope of the court: doing repeated footwork. This turned out to be quite helpful as my partner and I were able to call the lines in or out with higher accuracy and confidence in the later games. Playing each of the three schools we’ve never played before in a different gym (WAB, ISB, AISG, respectively), I learned about how vital it was to adjust to not only the environment but also the opponents’ tactics that varied based on what each player specialized in. I was able to shake off the nerves after the first game and neglect the doubts and fears from the inside about losing; just focus on the next point and not make the same mistakes again. Keeping this in mind, I played through the rest of the games and finished the first day with 3 wins and 3 loses.
Day 2 was when the soreness and decline in energy came in. Waking up at 6:30, I did not feel like I was physically prepared for another day of continuous games. However, the moment I stepped onto the court, I knew I was ready. It was as if there was a switch in my body that activated my consciousness and assembled all my attention to strive to win every next point. We defeated both SASPX teams and almost defeated both SASPD teams (1-2 against their doubles 1), ending the morning of Day 2 with 3 wins and 1 lose. This placed us at seed 5 for the individual playoff out of 12 teams, the spot that my partner and I fought and secured until the end of the tournament.
Day 3 was the high point for me and the entire team. In the final elimination round game for girls' doubles that brought an end to my games for this season, I was able to deliver my best performance by silencing our opponents who were known for being loud on the court. An unanticipatedly beautiful backhand defense terminated our opponents’ efforts to catch up as I felt a wave of relief and pride in myself for pushing my limits till the last minute of the game. Receiving compliments from my teammates who watched the last few points and our coach, I was deeply fulfilled to end the tournament with a victory that is named the “cleanest game of the season”.
The afternoon sets the stage for the most exhilarating and tense moments of the tournament - finals. Concordia’s boys team was in the lead for the boys championship, where both doubles 1 and singles 1 advanced into the finals. As all the players sat around one court to witness the birth of the boys’ doubles champions, our team demonstrated an impressive level of energy and support in the crowd by cheering loudly for every point our teammates earned. With both teams giving in their best efforts, the rallies were intense with a combination of strong smashes, precise drops, and astonishing cross-court nets. Under the evident chemistry in their seamless communication and coordinated movements, Concordia’s boys doubles 1 won the championship as the crowd went wild and we raced to them for celebration. Although the gold medals and the championship did not belong to me, being part of a team that achieved something extraordinary like this was a source of immense pride and satisfaction. The winners’ talents and capabilities had finally been recognised and rewarded as we firmly believed that the success of one teammate is a victory for the entire team.
“And the Boys Championship for APAC Badminton 2023 goes to…Concordia International School Shanghai!” We did it. We brought a new banner back to the Home of the Phoenix from Beijing. The adrenaline rush of competing against other skilled players, the intense focus and concentration required to perform at one's best, the feeling of satisfaction when victory is achieved, the shared times of training, competing, and celebrating victories…This is an experience that has created lifelong memories and inspired all of us to strive for excellence in all aspects of our lives. Phoenix, soar!
By Mulan Grade 11