SPOTLIGHT – Oceania Champ James Eunson talks to Badzine

Oceania men’s singles badminton champion James Eunson spoke to Badzine just days after Badminton New Zealand announced they would be rejecting the spot he had secured for the London Olympics. […]


Oceania men’s singles badminton champion James Eunson spoke to Badzine just days after Badminton New Zealand announced they would be rejecting the spot he had secured for the London .

By Kira Rin, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

New Zealand’s James Eunson played only two tournaments outside the Oceania region in the past year.  In the closing weeks of the qualifying period for this year’s London Olympic Games, he passed compatriot Michael Fowke to secure the continental spot for men’s singles, but it was all to no avail, for this year anyway.

Badminton New Zealand announced this month that it would be rejecting spots offered by the BWF to both James and to Michelle Chan as the two shuttlers had not met the lofty ranking criteria demanded by the New Zealand Olympic Committee, criteria that would exclude a majority of the players who will be competing at Wembley Arena this summer.

With New Zealand abdicating and Australia already planning to send two doubles pairs on continental tickets, the Oceania seat in London could well end up going to a player from New Calendonia or Tahiti, whose top men’s singles shuttler’s were at world #320 and #458 respectively, at the end of the Olympic qualifying period.

Still, James remains upbeat and optimistic as he continues to meet the challenges of elite badminton as well as his academic career.  He spoke to Badzine just before making his first trip north of the equator this year, to represent New Zealand at the Thomas Cup in Wuhan, China.

Badzine International: Why did you take up badminton?

James Eunson: I took up badminton because my family started playing it and I joined my family in playing badminton.

BZI: Briefly describe your background.

Eunson: I was born in New Zealand.

The first time I played badminton was when I was 5 years old. My father was quite good so I kind of followed in his footsteps. At twelve, I started badminton training and at fourteen, I won my first tournament, which was the Under-14 tournament and I joined the development squad.

After high school, I put more effort into my training and that’s why I am where I am now.

BZI: How is life juggling badminton and university?

Eunson: It is really tough juggling maths and badminton.  This year I have been doing more studying compared to the previous years.

BZI: According to the rankings, you are Oceania’s no. 1. However, New Zealand won’t send you to the Olympics. Can you elaborate on the situation at hand?

Eunson: I think it would be good for New Zealand to have more athletes in the Olympics but New Zealand‘s qualification standards mean I have to be in the top 18 to make it in. I think Michelle Chan has a high chance of making it to the Olympic squad considering her rise in ranking to her recent rank at 39th in the world.

I think New Zealand is trying to avoid embarrassment like John Moody’s first-round exit in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and even to New Zealand, the Super Series is way harder than the Olympics.

BZI: Even if you can’t make it to the Olympics this year, do you think you can make it to 2016 Rio Olympics?

Eunson: I think so, because at the moment I am juggling my studies and badminton. Hopefully, from next year onwards, I can finish my studies and focus full-time on badminton

BZI: Finally, what are your opinions of the current Olympics?

Eunson: I think Lin Dan is likely to win.  He knows how to win everything. He has won almost all the major titles. China has a very high chance of winning as they have three men’s singles players in the draw.  Still, Lee Chong Wei can present a powerful obstacle to Lin Dan and it could be a battle between the two of them.

BZI: Thanks for your time, James.

About Kira Rin