By Alvin Thammavongsa
Alexander Fung had a year to cherish and remember this year on the badminton court. Competing in mixed doubles with his partner Eyota Kwan, they went undefeated throughout the season, and won gold at ACAC provincials en route to Nationals.
On the stage of CCAA Nationals in Mississauga, ON, Fung and Kwan once again turned in an undefeated run in the tournament and had a well-contested 3-set match in the gold medal round against a very strong team from Seneca College from Ontario.
Fung was humble and grateful in the wake of his success at nationals.
“[The] coaches had my back, and put me in a position to do well this season by giving me a scholarship to study business at NAIT, and by partnering me with Eyota Kwan, a very strong player,” said the national champion of his coach Sinead Cheah and the badminton program at NAIT.
Prior to coming to NAIT, Fung had already graduated from engineering at the University of Alberta, but his passion and fire for badminton put Fung onto a new trajectory.
“After graduating with an engineering degree, I decided that I wanted to experience college nationals as well,” said Fung.
Fung grew up with badminton as a part of his life, playing competitively as a junior at the Royal Glenora club under esteemed coach and program coordinator Wen Wang, and making it to the 2014 BWF World Junior Championships in Alor Setar, Malaysia.
Fung went on to attend the University of Alberta, but lost his focus on badminton as he ensconced himself in his engineering studies. To make matters worse, the UofA did not have a badminton team for Fung to let his birdies fly.
“While studying engineering, some of my badminton friends from juniors were off playing college nationals, (and it) looked fun,” said Fung.
Fung prepares himself for competition by working on his range of shots, refining his technique and establishing game strategy with his coaches. His mixed doubles partner, Eyota Kwan, keeps him sharp in their games in practice.
Some battles a man has to face on his own, and Fung puts a particular emphasis on the sports psychology that factors into the dazzlingly quick shuttlecock skirmish of badminton. Fung talks the mental game over with his coaches to keep the pressure from building up, but sometimes the butterflies cannot help but escape.
Fung offered an insight into the match day jitters at Nationals.
“[I was] very nervous, drank a Yop, almost threw up, took a dump, got into the car and tried to cry my eyes out,” Fung said.
Fung is currently a first-year open studies student. He is unsure what his next step is. He is working full time, and has accomplished what he set out to do at the beginning of this year: collecting wins at a Hawaii invitational, ACAC provincials, and CCAA Nationals in badminton.
Wherever he goes next for badminton, he expects the next echelon of improvement lies in mastering the mental game within the sport, still holding himself accountable for his performance under pressure at nationals despite the triumphant result.