Badminton bolsters Youth Team
5 June 2014
BADMINTON: Australia’s hopes for gold at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) have been bolstered by the addition of Daniel Guda and Joy Lai to the Australian Youth Olympic Team.
The two have been selected to compete in Badminton at the second Summer Youth Olympic Games, to be held in Nanjing, China this August.
Badminton is the world’s fastest racquet sport and will easily be one the most entertaining events on the YOG roster, as it never fails to keep spectators on the edge of their seats.
Snagging gold at this year’s Games is certainly on the minds of the Aussie youngsters and the two are ready for what China has to offer.
Lai, 15, from Victoria, began playing Badminton when she was only six and rose through the ranks of the Australian Institute of Sport’s ‘Jump Smash’ program, which was designed to discover new talent in the sport.
It didn’t take long for the youngster to be selected in the National Junior Squad and then the senior squad, despite the fact she’s only 15.
In 2013, Lai proved just how talented she is, winning both the singles and doubles events at the Australasian Championships, held at Altona in Victoria.
In May this year, she represented Australia at the Uber Cup in India, helping Australia finish ninth in their pool of 16.
Lai’s preparation for the YOG will continue throughout July when she takes to the court for the U19 Australian Championships in Perth.
Like many of the athletes at this year’s Games, including this talented teen, selection in a Youth Olympic team is nothing more than a farfetched dream when they start.
“I didn’t think I’d have this much success, not when I first started which was a long time ago,” Lai said.
“But a few years ago I started to want to achieve things in badminton, and here I am.”
Despite her string of success and immense preparation, when it comes to the YOG, there’s no such thing as being over prepared.
“There’s definitely still room for improvement before the Games,” she said.
Another impressive addition to the Badminton squad is 17-year-old Daniel Guda, from Sydney.
Originally from the Philippines, Guda picked up a racquet as a child and has never looked back.
“I was introduced to badminton when I was seven by my parents while they were playing socially. My family has been ecstatic about my selection,” he said.
In 2012, Guda took out both the singles and doubles events at the U17 Australasian Championships and was also a runner-up in the U19 competition.
Over the past couple of years, Guda has proved his worth and has gold in his sights heading to Nanjing.
In the lead up to the YOG, Guda is doing all he can to ensure he puts his best foot forward when competition begins.
“I am putting in a lot of effort with my on-court training and my fitness. I have just recovered from a recurring injury and still trying to get to my best form with the help of my physiotherapist and coaches,” Guda said.
The second Summer Youth Olympic games commence in Nanjing, China on Saturday 16 August and run for 12 days. Badminton will take place on days 1-6 at the Nanjing Sports Institute.
2014 Australian Youth Olympic Team - Badminton Section: