When badminton is the topic of discussion, most people usually think of it as just some outdoor recreational sport to play at backyard barbecues. But when I hear it, I think of one of the fastest racquet sports in the world—and one that basically took up my whole life.

Although badminton was first created in England, Asian countries now dominate in the sport. At first, badminton was played outdoors, but is now usually played indoors. It officially became a sport in the Olympic games during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Even when playing for fun, badminton is a total body workout that requires agility, precision, alertness, and a whole lot of thinking.

Like tennis, badminton is a racquet sport played in a rectangular court divided by a net. Players on each side of the net try to outsmart or outpace each other by striking the shuttle before it hits the ground. The basics of badminton include gripping techniques, footwork, strokes, and stances.

My journey in badminton started when I was five, when my dad took me to local community centres to play with him. Eventually, he began to teach me the basics. He may have just been saying it because he was my dad, but he said he saw potential.

Later, he became a recreational coach, and my parents sent me to a training facility. (The whole father-daughter thing didn’t work out, since I’d walk off the court every ten minutes.)

During the next few years, I trained almost seven days a week for about two to three hours a day. Not only was it physically demanding, but it also stretched my mental capacity. Being coached by top coaches from Indonesia and China, and training with top junior players in Canada, was beneficial and has led me to where I am today.

I’ve played at provincial, national, and even international levels, and one of my biggest achievements was winning the U17 Girl’s Doubles champion title at Jr. Pan Ams in Mexico last year.

Despite winning many medals, the most important reward from badminton is the fact that I endure countless hours of training, fight for myself at tournaments, and face my fears on court. I believe that the beauty of sport is experiencing the thrill of winning and the agony of losing. These experiences have taught me many things that can follow me throughout the rest of my life.

If you interested in playing badminton somewhere close by, there are many places where you can play recreationally or take lessons. Court rentals, drop ins, group lessons, private sessions, and team training are offered at many different facilities. You can visit badmintonontario.ca to look for nearby places for you to play.

Vania Wu is an medal-winning badminton player from York Region.