Chongqing welcomes the world in a spirit of solidarity

The city of Chongqing, southwest China, was the host of an invitational tournament a few days ago, with top players around the world and a special focus on solidarity as […]

The city of Chongqing, southwest China, was the host of an tournament a few days ago, with top players around the world and a special focus on solidarity as the organizers have vowed to put the foundation “ – Badminton without Borders” in the limelight by giving a share of the prize money for ’s programs for children, but also inviting some of its ambassadors. Amongst these ambassadors was Novia, a young shuttler from one of ’s programs, who is part of the team “Ultimate” – the very best of all the young shuttlers from all of Indonesia’s Bintang Kidul Programs.  She got to play with big guns like Michelle Li (photo below), Zhang Beiwen, and Hadia Hosny from Egypt, with whom she played doubles.

Story and live photos : Dominique Gygax and Novia Rahmawati

It was a first time for Novia to participate in such a high level tournament, where she was to play in singles, and in doubles with Olympian Hadia Hosny from Egypt. Novia shares with us her feelings and emotions right after this tournament…

Novia : “A dream come true”

It begins with an unexpected message on my phone a couple of months ago, an invitation I receive from Ms. Pi Hongyan and Mr. Raphaël from Solibad, to join the 2019 Chongqing International Badminton Tournament. Chongqing, southwestern China, the largest city in the world!

I am totally delighted; I’ve only joined an international competition once before out of Indonesia, my 53rd WS national ranking is improving all the time, but my family cannot support my career and my team, Bintang Solibad Indonesia tends to run on a budget. I am Novia, 20 years old, professional athlete, 4 siblings and no money.

It’s midnight. It’s foggy and it’s very cold as I land at Chongqing airport… No one around but 2 young people with a sign in my name. Introductions, big smiles, so friendly, excellent English. We get lost in the unending empty halls until eventually we find our driver, who mistakenly takes us to the wrong hotel – same name, different place. The car comes back to finally drop me in a most beautiful hotel. My room is as large as a badminton court, it’s cosy, comfy and elegant. I’ve never stayed anywhere like this. Next morning is practice in a huge 12 court badminton hall, just behind one of many Decathlon, minutes away. A hoard of smiley volunteers take care of everything and every one of our needs and it will be so until the last goodbyes and true promises to stay in touch – forever!

Most foreigners haven’t arrived yet, so I play with Chinese players who have come from all over the country. The level is very high and I’m at par level with many of them. After 2 hours, the bus takes us back and I am invited to lunch in a sumptuous private lounge with a turning table top covered in Szechuan dishes more appetizing one than the other. Michelle Li, Zhang Beiwen, Arnaud Merkle (photo) , Maxim Ziegler, Dimitar Yanakiev and a few more are already there and eating. I’m a little shy; all are big champions, many worldwide top ranking! “Don’t let them impress you, Nov, keep a strong mental, you’re going to need it!”. “Yes”, says my little inner voice, “but they have so much more experience than me!” “Enjoy and do my best, that will be my motto!”

Next morning, back to practice; Hadia Hosny (photo), my WD Egyptian partner is arriving in the afternoon. African gold medallist and double Olympic player, we will fight together here in Chongqing. She’s just arrived from a competition in Cameroon, let’s hope she manages her jetlag well. That evening is the Opening Ceremony, invigorating, beautiful traditional songs and dances, speeches and yet another fabulous dinner and off to bed, because tomorrow I play in WS against a player from Thailand. A difficult start with newly stringed rackets (I broke them all during practice; is it because of the temperature?!).

My opponent seems so at ease, she masters the field effortlessly, whilst the beginner in me needs time to develop confidence and to play in this cold. We change shirt 6 times in a practice in Indonesia, just from the heat and sweat. Not here! I’m too nervous, she gets the first game but I pick up in the second and though I play much better, experience takes over and she gets the match.

In our WD match the next day, I am far more confident and we play a great game. Hadia is the “angler” and I am the speed and flexibility, the “murderer”. We lose the match to the Chinese team, but we make a good pair and agree to play together again in the coming year.

Lost maybe, but that’s not the end of it, because as the Chinese dominance takes hold of the tournament with Michelle, Zhang, Saran Jamsri – a fabulous young player-, the Taiwanese and a Singapore/Malaysia team hang on very strongly, I continue to practice with the other athletes. There, I show my game and I even surprise myself, as I win against European champions and others…if only I could play like this under pressure!

The whole experience has been extraordinary in every single sense! The organization was perfect, the volunteers totally fabulous in their efficiency, dedication and friendliness. Few people in Chongqing can speak English, but they are all smiles and fast to use translators to help with communication. I can only thank the whole organizing committee, every referee, line men, volunteer, chambermaid, chef and kind driver that has contributed to a unique experience! I must start to compete more around the world, but in Hadia’s words…It’s never been that nice as a whole tournament experience. Great job Chongqing, I hope to visit again, stronger and more confident.

Top stars come to shine

If Novia didn’t go all the way and didn’t get any medals, a lot of other shuttlers were fighting – all in good spirits of course – for the win. Amongst the main contenders were Canada’s Michelle Li and USA’s Zhang Beiwen, who met in the final of the event. Michelle won that battle, but the two friends were then to play doubles together. They were beaten by local pair of Tang/Jiang (photo). But the lucky spectators of the competition were to enjoy some unexpected guests who have been in the limelight of the world badminton tour for a long time, such as retired Singapore shuttler Yao Lei, Malaysia’s Lim Khim Wah, Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana, Wang Rong from Macau, European Junior Champion Arnaud Merkle or former local star Chai Biao – who won the men’s doubles competition (main photo).

A second edition of a tournament which will probably know a bright future with more and more interest from top shuttlers and a perfect organization by the city of Chongqing.

Final results
MS: Saran Jamsri (THA) beat Wei Gao Wang (CHN) 21-13,21-13 
WS: Michelle Li (CAN) beat Zhang Beiwen (USA) 21-17,22-20
MD: Chai Biao / Qi Shuang Shuang (CHN) beat Deng Hao Xuan / Wang Ze (CHN) : 21-10, 22-20
WD: Tang Ping Yang / Jiang Bin Bin (CHN) beat Michelle Li / Zhang Beiwen (CAN/USA)
XD: Lim Khim Wah/ Yao Lei (MAS/SIN) beat Goh Xuyi / Du Yue (CHN) ; 21-16, 11-21, 21-18


Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.