20 Questions for – Olga Konon (Germany)

Olga Konon the 20-year-old from Belarus has been widely hailed as one of Europe’s hottest prospects in women’s singles badminton for the past number of years. A last16 finish at the Beijing […]

olga-konon-08-pol-st-allengland2010Olga Konon the 20-year-old from Belarus has been widely hailed as one of Europe’s hottest prospects in women’s singles badminton for the past number of years. A last16 finish at the Beijing Olympics at just 18 followed by some impressive victories over some class Chinese opposition has elevated Konon to one of the most feared Europeans on tour. Badzine caught up with Konon shortly after it was announced that she would now represent Germany on the international circuit and put a series of questions, some serious and some not so serious, to her about her life and badminton.

By Mark Phelan.  Photos: badmintonphoto.com (archive)



Q1 Badzine: You recently gained German Citizenship which now allows you play under the German flag. What does this development in your career mean to you personally?

A1 Olga Konon:  I have not got full German citizenship just yet, but I’m allowed to play under German flag already at all international tournaments. I guess the move to Germany means that I can now actually develop my badminton level in a top class system, under the good and watchful eyes of the German coaches and together with world class sparring partners. Starting for Germany gives me more belief, confidence and motivation to do what I love to do-play badminton. I just feel like I belong

 Q1 Badzine: After representing Belarus in the Beijing Olympics you moved to Poland and now make a third move to Germany. Is this the final move for you and what made you choose Germany?

A2 Olga Konon: Yeah it might look a bit funny and most probably give a wrong impression of me, like I’m changing country every day. But I guess everyone would agree that we try to be in the place where we are wanted, welcomed, appreciated and respected. I just love badminton too much to sacrifice it and be in a place where people are not interested in my development and even stopping me from realising my potential. And we are given only one life, and I think we cannot just sit and wait for good things to come to us or some skilful Chinese badminton coach, by pure accident, gets lost in Belarus and then over time starts coaching me.  I mean nothing is impossible but the chance this happening is very very small. In Russian language we have one line what says:

“Надо уметь закрывать скучную книгу, уходить с плохого кино, увольняться с плохой работы и расставаться с плохими людьми…”

Which translates roughly to mean “we need to know how to close a boring book, leave from the bad movie, quit the bad job and leave bad people..” it means that it’s important to make decisions. olga-konon-01-pol-sh-germanopen2009

And yes right now I can say for sure that during my badminton career Germany is my last move. But what is going to happen in the very far future is hard to predict, let’s just live and see. I guess it’s not me who chose Germany! It’s a very philosophical question actually and what I learned from last few years is that, some things in life are just meant to be and you can’t escape it, even if on the way u take a turn in a different direction, life would still get u back on the right track. It is just a matter of time.

Q3 Badzine: What do you hope to achieve representing Germany and what will playing for Germany bring to your game?

A3 Olga Konon: I’ve always dreamed of beating Chinese players. I don’t know, but since a young age I heard here and there people saying that the Chinese machine is unbeatable. Everyone thinks that they are automatically good, because there is something in there genes, special food they eat, air they breathe etc. I just want to be one of not many European players who beat them on a regular basis. One of the one they hate seeing in the draw and fear. Like Tine or Saina. And of course I have beaten a few already so I hope I’m on my way tot achieving that ambition

And of course I hope to get a medal at the London Olympics and World Championships and just keep performing well and getting great results in Super Series an top tournaments. Playing for Germany would mean in 1 year I’ll be allowed to represent the country in team events and I am very excited about that and hopefully I can add some important points to the team. Having a German flag on my back fills me with pride and joy and I want to give my best results to the country where I’ve been living already for some years now… and enjoyed it!

Q4 Badzine: Will you train with the German national team in Mulheim and what will it mean to you to be training alongside players such as Juliane Schenk, Carola Bott, Karin Schnasse, Fabienne Deprez and Ella Diehl?

A4 Olga Konon: Yes I guess starting the beginning 2011 I will be joining the ladies squad in Mullheim. I think all together that is going to be the best ladies team to train with in Europe. And we all players of different styles, so we can gain a lot from training with each other.

Q5. Badzine: How do you think the players mentioned will cope with your arrival and what do you hope to bring to the table when you start training with them full time?

A5 Olga Konon: I hope that my arrival there will help to make all the girls there better players. I hope that I can help them like I know they will help me and together we should be one hell of a strong women’s squad.

Q6. Badzine: You have been widely tipped for past number of years as Europe’s hottest prospect in women’s singles badminton. Is this expectation something that you are comfortable with?

A6 Olga Konon: Wow hottest prospect, sounds really great, I like it. What it means for me is that other people can see my potential and it gives me more motivation to train and to do my best, especially if I have bad days, then I do remember that there are people who think I can be good and no matter what I have to keep going. It kind of gives you no right to stop or quit. And thanks for everyone who does believe in me. That is very important for me.

Q7. Badzine: Over the past few years you have essentially played on the European tour due to lack of funding. Will this change now you’re a part of the German set up and will we see you more regularly on Super Series tour both in Europe and Asia?

A7 Olga Konon: Yeah past years been very hectic for me. There were always logosz-konon-15-pol-yn-denmarkopen2009different problems thrown at me, not only funding problems, but also visa problems and other boring stuff. It was really hard to concentrate on playing tournaments and trying to earn ranking points. But now I feel like my life getting on the track and I’m getting more settled in one place so slowly I start to play more tournaments already this year and hopefully next year, I can travel to Asia.

Q8. Badzine: Speaking of Super Series you have the enviable 100% qualifying record in every Super Series you have taken part in and are also one of the few Europeans who has consistently beaten Chinese opposition including Wang Shixian at French Super Series last year. What is your secret in being able to challenge the Chinese and do you feel at ease when you play in these big matches at big tournaments?

A8 Olga Konon: I don’t know why but I notice I’m really very motivated when I play against Chinese players. I don’t know where it’s coming from, maybe because I always heard that they are so good and almost unbeatable. I just feel twice as competitive and want to prove to everyone that u don’t have to be Chinese to beat Chinese

Q9. Badzine: Now that you are settling into a new life in Germany what are your goals and ambitions both on and off the court?

A9 Olga Konon: First of all it’s to learn German. I mean yeah I have been living here for some years now and not really speaking German. The first few years I was staying at the BWF academy in Saarbrucken and we spoke only English so there was no need to learn the German language. I’ve never actually expected there could be chance for me to play for Germany which in itself is proof that nothing is impossible…

I want to get a driving licence as travelling around and living in different countries just gave me no opportunity to get driving license earlier.

On court I guess I will be adopting to the German training and system, slowly integrate into the team.

Q10. Badzine: Finally many will doubt the sincerity of your move to Germany as is the case with many athletes in many sports. What do you say to these people and in particular what do you say to the German badminton public as you head into your first tournament with a German flag beside your name?

olga-konon-11-pol-yn-denmarkopen2009A10 Olga Konon: I just want to say life is not perfect and sometimes it doesn’t go perfectly and we are all not born in China or Denmark and happily playing the sport you love. Those people who have everything around them should know and realise that they are very lucky. There are rules but then there are also exceptions…so I am the one from exceptions. Not every kid in this world has their biological parents with them, I mean there are some kids who are adopted… but they do love their new parents and they do appreciate that they gave them home…

And to all German public I just want to say that I really appreciate playing for Germany, carrying German flag beside my name. I’ll do my best to represent Germany with honour.




 Q1 Badzine. What is your favourite music to listen to?

A1 Olga Konon. I do like different music, depending on my mood. For training I like R’n’B, light techno, something with a good beat.  I do like sometimes to listen to oldies.

Q2 Badzine. If you were to take one thing to a dessert island what would it be?

A2 Olga Konon. A bible

Q3 Badzine. What do you dream of achieving?

olga-konon-47-pol-rs-denmarkopen2009A3 Olga Konon. I dream of an Olympic medal as I suppose most athletes do but I would also like to release a book about my thoughts on life, religion, philosophy and logic and hopefully it can be helpful to people someday.

Q4 Badzine. Do you have any superstitions or routines you must do before going on court?

A5 Olga Konon.Me personally not, but at my club matches together with my doubles partner Emma Wengberg, we always sing one song before the game ” Florence and Machine – You’ve got the love” I don’t know why but this song is really magical and whenever we sing it we win and whenever we think wow its difficult match for the team we start sing this song. I mean it also makes us laugh and relax a bit from tension hahahahha.

Q6 Badzine. If you could pick 5 players in world to spar with for a week who would they be?

A6 Olga Konon.Is it ok it would be all guys….

Lee Chong Wei – He is number 1 after all

Wong Choong  Hann as I really like his style.

Bao Chunlai  – it’s cool to spar with tall players as it’s good for improving your defence

Peter Gade – I have been a big fan of his since I was small

And finally a doubles player to play some drives………….. Yeah  love it

Q7 Badzine. If you were to play mixed doubles again who in the world would you choose to play with?

A7 Olga Konon.ok well I definitely know who in the world I wouldn’t choose, that’s my boyfriend as we just can’t play together. sorry hunny_)

Then I think Anthony Clark is a really great partner…amazed by his skills so I would play with him.

Q8 Badzine. The 4 people who count most in your life?

A8 Olga Konon. My mum, dad, sister and my boyfriend.olga-konon-20-pol-yn-denmarkopen2009

Q9 Badzine. If you were to use a swear word on court what would that word normally be?

A9 Olga Konon. Hmmmmm my apologies to all Spanish speaking people but I do say “puta” sometimes on court because it’s just so easy to say.

Q10 Badzine. One thing that you are afraid of or scares you in life?

A10 Olga Konon. It’s not that I am really scared but just a tiny bit scared to be stuck in a lift. It happened to me before and I don’t have nice memories of it.






About Mark Phelan