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Reflections: Asia Pickleball Games 2023

Credit: Lim Ee Kiong

The recently concluded Asia Pickleball Games gave me a lot to think about as we faced off against many strong opponents in Chinese Taipei. It was a vastly different experience from what I had previously in Bali at the World Pickleball Championships and the team event in the Guangdong Provincial team event held in Guangzhou City. These Asia Pickleball Games had a bit of a very different impact on me because, first of all, I turned up with a pretty severe lung infection that hampered my performance even though I've always been a fan of saying that once you decide to turn up for the game that you can't make an excuse.

You either miss or play the match, but once you do, your injuries and illnesses are no longer relevant. Coming off back-to-back tournaments and this being the third tournament in as many weeks also allowed me to test how much and how far my physical conditioning has come. It started earlier this year at the Singapore Pickleball Open where I loaded myself with up to five events, followed by the Pesta Sukan in August where I participated in eight events (with intense body aches and cramps, of course), and then another eight events at the recent World Pickleball Championships and the team event in Guangzhou which lasted nearly 12 hours. Within a couple of days, I was back at Changi Airport's departure hall, ready to represent Singapore at the Asia Pickleball Games, where I had to play four events.

Personally, the team event was by far the most memorable experience I had. Credit to all my national teammates for coming together and making it work. We had players as young as 22 years old and as senior as nearly 60 who were still playing at a very high level. In the Round-Robin stage, we were put against India, one of the favourites and eventual finalists, and nobody expected us to win that match. Nonetheless, we defeated them and topped our group, which was a big upset and a great accomplishment. We went on to play against Japan in the quarterfinals and progressed to the semi-finals, meeting the Taiwanese team, who were the eventual champions. Though we lost in the semi-finals, everyone came together, supported one another, and truly showed what it meant to wear the Singapore flag on our chest with pride and gusto.

The 3rd & 4th placing match was nail-biting because we knew that this was a chance for us to not just get a medal but to be the first Singapore national team to accomplish something that many other countries can only dream of. Some of us have never competed overseas, while others started from scratch with no racquet sports background. Seeing how far they've come is inspiring, and I think they deserve a lot of praise and encouragement from everyone.

Concerning my performances in the individual events, I was very disappointed as I felt I could have done better. Getting fitter and healthier is something I need to work on, though I think that my weight regime has allowed me to put a little bit more zip on the ball and an ability to move faster and dynamically on the court. However, I am focused on cutting some excess weight. Currently, my weight is about 84 kilos, but I'm hoping to cut this down to about 76kg as this will be the same weight that I was at when I was competing in tennis. Anything less than that results in a loss of power.

Aside from this immediate goal, I will be detailing a new project I've embarked on that consists of valuable notes I've gathered across every tournament and match played, competitive or social. You can call it my philosophy of pickleball, and it'll cover how I see pickleball evolving to become more than just a sport and how people can learn so much from playing.

And so to my next blog post.

As always, Onward!


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