Monday, May 01, 2006

Off to Japan!

Earlier in the year, the Indian men’s team made it to the semifinals of the Thomas Cup Preliminary Rounds held in Jaipur in February 2006. This meant that we had qualified for the final rounds of the Thomas Cup after a gap of six years and only for the fifth time ever in Indian badminton history. In preparation for the final rounds, we went through a 16-day camp at the KBA stadium in Bangalore. This stadium offers ten badminton courts in excellent condition including four 'hova’ courts, a feature that is not very common in India. The stadium also has a world class gym and a small swimming pool, so that makes it arguably the best badminton facility in India. I was doing more physical training in the camp than usual as it had been a while since I'd done any hard training.

As is always the case, we (players and coaches) only got to know our travel arrangements the day before we left, and we received our passports and tickets only a few hours before we were supposed to leave. I can’t figure why this happens every single time, but I can’t afford to be bothered by it as it is never going to change. It was like this during Prakash Sir's time and it will be like this always. And so we were off on the night of 25th April 2006. Our flight route was as follows: Bangalore-Bangkok-Tokyo-Sendai. It was a long journey, and especially tiring by the wait at every airport. It took us about a day to reach Sendai, where the group matches would be held. We would need to enter the quarterfinals to enter the next stage of the tournament in Tokyo.

Being placed in the same group as China and Germany, that isn’t going to be easy. We only had one practice session in a practice hall as the main hall was being readied for the matches. This is a definite disadvantage as all other countries have practiced in the main hall and they'll be better adjusted to the conditions.

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