Juliane Schenk – The wisdom age

Just before turning thirty on Monday, the hottest European player of the moment spoke to Badzine, looking back at her career and viewing the future with philosophy. By Thibault Bluy, […]

Just before turning thirty on Monday, the hottest European player of the moment spoke to Badzine, looking back at her career and viewing the future with philosophy.

By Thibault Bluy, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

After the Olympics, Juliane Schenk left her racket in a corner.  Not for a long time, as sport always catches up with her again.  Since the age of five, she has never ceased to move and focus on a shuttle or a ball.

Her parents were very active in Hülser SV, the badminton association of her hometown Krefeld in northwest Germany.  They brought her very young to the hall, where she enjoyed badminton of course, but also football or table tennis.

“I simply love sport, no matter which sport it is,” the athletic woman said.  “From deep in my heart, I have always loved sport and I think that is the biggest motivation for me.”

She knew when she was in the junior national team that she would become a professional player.  The Indonesian Susi Susanti was especially inspiring to her, but her main model was Camilla Martin.

“She was the only one from the Europeans who was really chasing the Chinese and challenging them, and that was quite amazing for me.  I really liked to watch her play,” she remembered with emotion still in her blue eyes.

More than ten years ago, the young Juliane joined the army as a sport soldier.  She just has to spend a few weeks in a row, attending some camps, but the rest of her time was allocated to badminton practice and tournaments.

Being a professional player implies a busy, irregular life, and the disciplined German has tried throughout her career to find the right balance between working, being on the court and saving some time to spend with her family and friends.  She enjoys giving her mind a change by drawing, reading, cooking or simply being outside cycling, walking or just having a coffee.

Talking about her friends on the circuit, players or fans, she said it is always nice to see them again, have a short talk or just exchange smiles.  “It is already a feeling of being at home,” she added.  She further admitted really appreciating Asian food and culture.

On court, the current world #4 in the women’s singles rankings always keeps on fighting to make her opponent’s road is as complicated as possible, but off-court, she is friendly and cultivates simplicity.  She always tries to stay positive, even in the worse moments, like in 2007 when her partner Nicole Grether tore her Achilles tendon as they were running for qualification to the Beijing Olympics in women’s doubles.

“I think all the other experiences are totally fine, because I will never judge that it is worse for me.  There will always be some good things about it.  So I do not focus on the bad things.”

Ever since this 2007 episode, she has been going out only for singles, and has had her best memories as a player.  She will never forget her victory at the 2012 Singapore Superseries, after having failed in three previous attempts.  There and in Indonesia are the two places she prefers playing the most.

What Juliane especially enjoys when playing is the tactical aspect of the challenge, all the speed variations and the consideration of everything around in the hall.  She feels really concerned about the development of badminton in Germany, trying her best to be an ambassador of her sport to catch media attention.

“I think there is so much potential in this sport.  In Asia, you can see so many spectators cheering, it is simply great to consider what happens on court with the bodies moving and everything.”

Although this young woman does not actually know what she will do after her badminton career, she does not foresee pursuing further a career in the army.  She is thinking of using her degree in sports management to get involved in that field, but does not exclude the possibility of doing something completely different.

“Let us see how many years I am going to continue.  My target?  No target at all!  I simply want to continue like this, that really makes me happy!” she concluded, a blooming smile on her lips.

About Thibault Bluy