Somewhere between the boing of a trampoline and the crack of a baseball bat is the mesmerizing sound of the perfectly struck birdie. Today at Vancouver’s Roundhouse Community Centre, 38 athletes got to share in that hypnotic sound on day three of the Outgames.
“I’ve run a lot of badminton tournaments and the atmosphere in here is great. They are all eager to play, and you see that everyone loves to play the sport,” says Cindy Simpson, who came all the way from Campbell River to manage the event. “Badminton is my passion.”
And as the crowded benches lining the gymnasium walls show, Campbell is not the only one with racket fever.
Daniel Lemieux, 44, is another enthusiast of the sport. He made the trek from Montreal just to take part in the tournament and was elated to have eked out a victory in a gruelling 9am doubles match.
“It’s very friendly, everybody is smiling, it’s a positive ambience,” he says during a short break between games.
Only the morning’s spirit of sportsmanship could compare to the quality of the competition, and the sweat on Lemieux’s brow and the grin on his face is proof of it. He’s impressed with the many lightning backhands he has seen on the court, in addition to the congratulations that often follow a bird well hit or a smash well placed.
Longtime player Melisa Postian, 47, a veteran of the 1990 Vancouver Gay Games and the 2006 Montreal Outgames, says fair play is an inherent part of the game. “It is a great sport because anyone can play. All you need is a racket. Badminton is really a game that leads to good sportsmanship because, as you notice, there are no referees or anything. You call your lines and your own fouls.”
Court judge Ayaz Amlani, who has logged 10 years of badminton organizing and officiating, says that with more than a dozen matches complete, there have been no disputed calls.
“If it is something that can’t be settled on the court, the point is replayed and an official is put on for that match,” he says, though he does not expect that to happen.
Amlani, who is also the official scorekeeper, says it’s too early to determine a favourite in any category.
Action will continue on July 28 until 4:15pm when, after thousands of precision swings and swatted shuttlecocks, the medals will be awarded. Canadian badminton legend Anna Rice will be on hand to award the prizes.