Russian badminton to refocus on Asia

The isolation of Russia from international competitions refocused the attention to national championships, which are taking place one by one in Kazan: in water polo, swimming, synchronised swimming, volleyball. The Russian Badminton Cup, which ended last Tuesday at Badminton Centre, is among them. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Andrey Antropov: “The most important thing for us is not to lose our promising youth”

Chairman of the National Badminton Federation Andrey Antropov was one of the most careful spectators Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent started a conversation saying that in the current situation with the isolation of Russia from international competitions it would be a bit easier for badminton.

“As for your statement that Russian badminton will suffer from the sanctions less because it is a game oriented to athletes from Asia, I can only agree. Moreover, it is not only Asian, China, India, our strategic partners, are its leaders. Same China was once in self-isolation, it didn’t compete at the Olympics for nearly 25 years but continued developing the sport in the country. So we also need to pay attention to our own forces and reserves. From this perspective, we held absolutely all scheduled tournaments, also, we will organise new ones.”

By the way, here it is necessary to pay attention to the completely different quality of national tournaments, since earlier leaders of the Russian national team could come only for the country’s championships that were qualifiers but didn’t compete in the Cup because of the international calendar. Now not only the Cup that ended in Kazan but also recent competitions had all the leaders of national badminton. But let’s give Mr Antropov the floor again.

“It pleases me that generations change actively here, new names are discovered, which pushes competition. Our youth team has won the European U19 Championships for the first time in badminton’s history. Also, our juniors under 15 and 17 years are one of the best in Europe. As people say, any crisis is also an opportunity. So now we shouldn’t lose the promising youth by giving them a chance to show off and intensify the competitive pressure on older players. Back to China’s experience. Now we are holding talks to organise joint camps and hold tournaments, obtain the permission for our athletes to compete in domestic competitions, which aren’t held under the aegis of international federations. For instance, there is a precedent in table tennis when two Russian teams excluded from a European Club Championship semi-final had to return because this tournament has its own status not related to the European federation.”

Moreover, there is a precedent with the Russian Sledding Federation that defended our athletes’ right to compete internationally, but international federations started to say they couldn’t guarantee Russians’ safety. It is necessary to work. Another thing can become the biggest trouble. Badminton as well as wider known tennis is a sport based on athletes’ rankings. Without competition, an athlete loses the points scored earlier going down the rankings more and more. And nobody will likely return these positions in the current situation. It turns out that after returning to the international stage, our athletes will have to start from scratch. Same European champions Alimov and Davletova, our very experienced doubles and European champions Ivanov and Sazonov, European Games medallist Yevgenia Kosetskaya.

Focus on Asia

According to Andrey Antropov, the majority in the badminton community agree not only with the fact that sport should out of politics but also the adoption of the rule of “collective responsibility” according to which Russia and Belarus turned out be on the sidelines. But Russia is ready to play with anybody who is open to this, which is a lot of tournaments in Asia, in some European states, of course, except for England, Denmark. In turn, more competitions can be held in Russia, same Tatarstan Antropov evaluated this way:

“We try to hold every competition better than the previous one. Talking about Tatarstan, it is one of the leading centres in the organisation of competitions. Taking advantage of the occasion, I want to thank the government of Tatarstan, Ministry of Sport, the republic’s Badminton Federation chaired by Alexey Demidov, Yury Chaplygin and everybody involved in hosting this competition for the well-organised badminton festival.”

We thank Mr Antropov for the high evaluation and agree with him when it comes to the thoughts about the focus on Asian badminton. But it is necessary to again try to examine the experience of same China. As it is known, China closed again almost immediately after the Winter Olympics in Beijing, consequently, its athletes are also losing points but planning to somehow go back to the global competition, since qualification tournaments for Paris 2024 will start in 2023.

Olga Pavlova: “We will never give up”

Head coach of team Tatarstan Igor Nazarov was preparing to second his player Sergey Sirant in the men’s final, therefore he could talk with our newspaper during a mixed final. Doubles from Bashkortostan Rodion Alimov and Alina Davletova won it, while they were going towards a tough victory with determination, Mr Nazarov answered questions with determination.

“Here it is necessary to note preventive actions of the Tatarstan Badminton Federation because we had started cooperating with badminton players from China together with our colleagues from Blagoveschensk earlier. The case is that Blagoveschensk is on the border with China and had a chance of crossing the border without applying for a visa hasn’t developed our sport yet. So our common wishes coincided — Blagoveschensk wanted to develop we wanted to improve, and we agreed on further cooperation with our Chinese friends. It is very important from a perspective that one cannot lose the development pace. For instance, now our youth cannot grow, playing, sparring and competing with leaders, children can follow players from the youth team, but the leaders fear that the loss of competition will affect their prowess. We already went through this during the pandemic when it was tough to return to the habitual schedule of training and tournaments after losing three months of competition. But here it turns out that only we and our neighbours from Belarus miss international competitions.”

Badminton players’ colleagues from the synchronised swimming federation understand this too because Vice President of the Russian federation Olga Pavlova was one of the honourable guests of the Russian Cup:

“The Open Russian Championship held with our Belarusian friends is only the first competition. We are elaborating issues on joint competitions with representatives of 21 countries from four continents except for Australia (Here it is necessary to add that in synchronised swimming this continent seriously falls behind). African Egypt, American Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Europe — Hungary, Slovenia, France, perhaps Israel — are ready to cooperate. We don’t give up and will never give up.”

Jaudat Abdullin

The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.