At the Badminton Canada 2017 Canadian Senior National Championships in February, Ontario athlete Brian Yang advanced to the Men’s Singles final – what an accomplishment for a fifteen-year-old competing against athletes 20 years of age and older.
“To play against and beat Canada’s senior top players was not easy for me. They were more experienced, they had more power and they had better fitness. I had to really focus and use all my ability on each point. I am very happy with my performance. I am glad that I was able to win a senior national medal at the age of 15. This encourages me to play more senior tournaments from now on.” said Brian.
Two weeks ago, at the Badminton Canada Junior Elite Series competition at Humber College, Brian was a heavy favourite to win. He did just that – being the only Triple Crown winner of the tournament by winning the U19 Boys Singles, the U19 Boys Doubles and the U19 Mixed Doubles events. It has been a breakthrough year for Brian so far - he hopes to further establish his national credentials at the upcoming National Junior Championships in May, and then work towards another solid international medal performance at the 2017 Pan Am Junior Badminton Championships in July in Markham.
Training at the E-Badminton Training Centre in Markham, Brian puts in hard work every day as he strives toward his ultimate goal of representing Canada in the Olympics. He knows that his goals require a strong daily training commitment, a “never give up” attitude, and a focus on the short-term steps that bring him closer to his Olympic goal. Badminton Ontario recently had the chance to speak with Brian about his badminton career and what motivates him toward achieving his goals!
MEET BRIAN YANG
BO: How did you get into the sport of Badminton? What interested you into getting into badminton? Why?
BY: One Friday evening, my parents were invited by their friends to play badminton at a school for fun. They took me with them so that I could play with the kids. I watched the adults play and found it very interesting. I picked up my parents' racquet and gave it a try. I was very young at that time and I had never experienced badminton before that, but I was able to rally with my parents. I liked the sound when the racquet hit the bird and I started to like the sport of badminton.
BO: You have competed in many different tournaments and travelled to various places in your badminton career so far - what has been your favourite experience so far?
BY: My favorite experience so far is the 2016 Junior Pan American Games in Lima Peru. It was the first time that I played team event and I won 4 gold medals (team event, U17 singles, U19 doubles and U19 mixed doubles) at this tournament. That moment when I was holding the Canadian flag and singing the national anthem on the first place podium gave me such a feeling of pride. I felt so proud of Canada and I felt so proud that I was able to play and win for my country.
BO: What are your major goals for your badminton career?
BY: My major goal for my badminton career is to represent Canada at international tournaments. My biggest dream is to represent Canada in the Olympics and try to earn a medal.
BO: Who is your greatest inspiration or role model when you are training and competing? Why?
BY: My role model is Lee Chong Wei. He is a legend of badminton. He trains hard off court and fights hard on court. He was ranked first in the world for a long time but he never gave in to his pride. He lost many times but he never gave up. His spirit always inspires me when I am training and competing at the tournaments.
BO: Some athletes must overcome challenges such as injuries and tough losses, what have been some of your challenges that you have dealt with so far? How have you managed to overcome them?
BY: I have dealt with several sicknesses and injuries so far. There was one time that I had already signed up for a tournament, but I fractured my right wrist during fitness. I had to withdraw from the tournament and stop playing for a month. Also, at the 2015 Pan American Games in Tijuana Mexico, I got food poisoning on the second day of the tournament. I was constantly going to the washroom, vomiting and diarrhea the whole night. I could not fall asleep, and I could not eat anything. I couldn’t even drink water. The next morning, I was extremely dizzy. I felt very weak and barely had the strength to stand up. My parents asked me if I wanted withdraw from the tournament and go to the hospital. I said no because I did not want to disappoint my partners and I did not want to go down without a fight. I continued play the tournament with a trash can beside the court in case I had to vomit during the game. It was really hard and I had to lie down and rest at the tournament infirmary after each match. With the help of the tournament doctor, the coaches, parents and players of Canada team, I slowly got better and in the end, I won 2 gold medals and 1 bronze medal.
BO: When you lose a match in a competition, what are the different things you do to learn from your mistakes? Why is it important?
BY: After a loss, I think back about my game, and try to find out what were the elements that contributed to me losing the match. If possible, watching the video of the match helps a lot. Then, I better understand the areas of weakness in my game and I focus more on training to improve on these weaknesses. It is important because if you don't learn from your losses, you will never be able to improve, and you will just keep losing.
BO: Do you remember your first tournament? How did you feel going into your first match?
BY: Don Rogerson Play-all-Day Singles Tournament was my first badminton tournament. It was such a special tournament for me and I will never forget it. My parents drove me all the way to Mississauga to play. At that time, I hadn't started my badminton training and I didn't even know the rules. But I wasn’t scared of my opponents; I just focused on each point and I managed to win a gold medal and a $20 cash prize.
BO: Being a high-level athlete you must spend a lot of time training and working out to maintain your form and skill, but what do you like to do on your down time?
BY: During my down time, I like to hang out with friends and play video games. My favorite video game is NBA live. I like it because I follow the NBA, and it is fun to play with a fantasy team with your favorite real-life players in it.
BO: What is your favourite part of training and what is your least favourite? Why?
BY: My favorite part of training is doing multi-shuttle drills because they are very intense and fast-paced; and the coach has ultimate control over the speed and where the bird is going. Also, multi-shuttle drills are best for training one certain aspect of your game. For example, if you want to train your offensive ability, multi-shuttle drills allow you to do this easily.
I do not have a least liked part of training because I believe all training has a purpose and can help you improve in one way or another.
BO: What advice would you give to anyone who is interested playing badminton competitively?
BY: Train hard off court and play honestly on court. Hard work pays off in the long run.
We thank Brian for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions and we look forward to all the amazing things he does in the future! Make sure to look out for our next Athlete Feature as we speak to all the up and coming Badminton players in Ontario. To read more articles make sure to visit our new page on our website!
Facebook: Badminton Ontario