C’WEALTH GAMES – The lesser known faces of badminton

The Commonwealth Games are often dubbed the friendly games, as competitors from smaller nations and territories compete on a level playing field as those with whom we are perhaps more […]

The are often dubbed the friendly games, as competitors from smaller nations and territories compete on a level playing field as those with whom we are perhaps more familiar. We took the time to catch up with some of those smaller nations on day two of the mixed team event.

By Michael Burke, Badzine Correspondent, live from Glasgow.  Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live).

The group of defending champions Malaysia, contained only two other teams: Sri Lanka, who compete at the higher levels of the circuit; and Barbados, a country more readily associated with cricket.

After Barbados had finished their last match we caught up with Mariama Eastmond and Shari Watson (pictured left) to speak about their experience so far at Glasgow 2014.

Speaking about the games, Shari said, “The Commonwealth Games means a lot – you get to represent your country, something which a lot of people don’t get the privilege of doing and it’s a good exposure for the sport.”

“Badminton is quite small in Barbados, we’re trying to build up the sport at the junior level, so we have lots of U11s, U13s and U15s coming through, to try to bridge the gap between the junior and senior levels as it’s a big jump.”

Mariama and Shari are the perfect ambassadors for the sport and both seemed to be enjoying their time in the spotlight despite some difficult performances – the likes of defending champions Malaysia are a tough prospect for any team in this competition.

The Bajan pair was not just here for the sake of it though. “We went in with an open mind, once you step on court it can be anyone’s day. For our part we made too many unforced errors, but by getting this opportunity to play at this higher level we can raise our game.” Remarked Shari.

With their eyes always on a prize, the disappointment of the team competition was quickly erased as Eastmond and Watson look forward to the individual competition next week and also a regional tournament as soon as they arrive home.

With an island size of 432 km2 and a population of just under 280,000 people, Barbados was made to look large compared to Norfolk Island, who probably take the title of smallest competing nation with just over 2000 people and 35 km2 to play with.

Much has been made of the training facilities on the one court on Norfolk Island – they have to put the lines down themselves and a low ceiling restricts their shot selection, but none of this matters to the team.

Michael Donohoe (pictured left with Snell) described the Commonwealth Games, “It’s phenomenal. It’s great to be a part of this. Being involved in an event like this is fantastic.”

His partner Joanne Snell continued, “It’s a fantastic atmosphere, we’ve been really enjoying the cheering.”

They were realistic about their chances, but the nerves fell away when they stepped out on court, Donohoe “Before, when we saw players from a distance yes it was a bit daunting, but when we got on court that all went away, we were just focussed on winning points, maybe a game if we’re lucky. We’re just looking to enjoy ourselves and be involved.”

Whilst that elusive game has not yet arrived for the Norfolk Island team, the players have won over the crowd with good sportsmanship, smiles and in the case of Richard Cribb (pictured right), some very acrobatic dives.

The full results for Day 2 of the mixed team event can be found here.

About Michael Burke