It was three days of great action, fun and laughter as Putrajaya provided the sandy stage for the ANOC World Beach Games Asian qualifier in Malaysia the past weekend.
Hong Kong China left the biggest winners as both their men’s and women’s triples teams made the cut on the final day of competition on Sunday.
ALSO READ: Best Friends Steer Hong Kong China to Bali
Korea took the men’s triples event – besting hosts Malaysia in an entertaining final – while Indonesia walked away winners in the women’s category. The Indonesians had won the mixed team relay a day earlier.
With its unique rules and way of playing as well as on-court competitiveness displayed by the participating teams throughout the weekend, the sport of AirBadminton won new admirers among first-time watchers.
The athletes, most of them playing their maiden tournament, were equally impressed.
“Anyone can play this sport, which is very good. For us, competing outdoors presented new challenges and trying to overcome them made the outing more interesting.”
– Korea’s Lee Hong Je, men’s triples champion
“It’s our first AirBadminton competition as a team, and we created history by qualifying. I hope we can bring this sport back to Hong Kong and let more people know about it.”
– Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki Vincent, former world No.10 men’s singles player
“It’s very meaningful in promoting badminton as a sport. As we are not restricted by limited indoor space, more people can play. This is how we get more people to love and appreciate badminton. AirBadminton is fun!”
– BWF Hall of Famer and London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Cai Yun
“I was really excited for this new experience. As I expected, it proved fun and our team was eager to win. Playing outdoors on the sand was surprisingly not easy but we adapted.”
– Sabar Karyaman Gutama, world No.42 in men’s doubles
“I retired some time ago, so I jumped at the chance to switch to AirBadminton. It’s really fun to play and I’m glad I can represent Team Hong Kong in the sport’s debut at the World Beach Games.”
– Ho Wai Lun, part of Hong Kong’s men’s triples team
“Initially I was not sure I could play badminton outdoors. But after the first match, I realised it’s very interesting and I had a good time out there. I’m looking forward to Bali. We want to go for gold.”
– Bu Jin Yi, who finished women’s triples runners-up with Korea
“I treasure this opportunity, the experience I gained from this tournament will help with my badminton career. I learned so much from my senior teammates.”
– China’s 18-year-old player Yu Chen Wang
“It’s my first time playing AirBadminton and it’s quite fun. The teamwork and togetherness on court made it an enjoyable experience. We were desperate to win but there was no stress. I’m quite excited to compete in Bali.”
“I wanted to know how difficult it is to play competitively to prepare better for Bali so I fielded myself! Coaching wise, I really enjoyed the mixed team relay. I’m really pleased we have this experience to take home.”
– Indonesia head coach Rionny Mainaky, who featured in the men’s triples third place playoff
The AirBadminton competition at the World Beach Games is scheduled to take place from 5-9 August.