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New Zealand Badminton Player Wins Impressively At Estonia Open

Monday 24 January 2011, 9:53AM

By Badminton New Zealand

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Denmark-based Aucklander Michelle Chan
Denmark-based Aucklander Michelle Chan Credit: Badminton New Zealand

Denmark-based Aucklander Michelle Chan this week won the women’s title at the Estonia Badminton Open in Estonia’s capital Tallinn.

This was Chan’s first win on the tough European circuit and positions her well going into the Swedish International tournament in Stockholm this coming week.

Chan had five matches over three days which she says was physically and mentally difficult, and having returned to Europe from New Zealand just the week before, she was still feeling the effects of travel.

“I knew I could take this tournament but I also knew I had to fight to get the title. I was prepared mentally to take one match at a time.”

This success lifts Chan’s world ranking to around 70. She says due to injury over the past six months she had lost some ranking but is now working her way to the top 60 in the world before qualifying for the Olympics.

Chan says she bases herself in Denmark because badminton is such a big sport there and has a very good competitive club system.

“It is the best competition in Europe with world-class players in the competition. I can move around competitions in Europe and Asia a lot easier and cheaper from there. Being largely self-funded I have to think through my competitive programme very carefully. I am also working with Danish coach Nadia Lyduch and I am very happy with progress.

“But home is definitely Auckland New Zealand,” she says.

Chan says the win means a lot as many players in the international badminton scene don’t expect players from smaller badminton nations such as New Zealand to have many strong players.

“I am hoping to show them that no matter where you are from you can get just as far or even further than players from traditionally strong badminton nations such as Denmark or Germany. Being from New Zealand gives me the determination to take the fight to them. I am so proud to be representing and succeeding for New Zealand.”

She says the Swedish International is always a strong tournament but she goes into it mentally and physically fresh.

For Chan badminton is year-round as when the European club and tournament season ends the Asian and Oceanic season starts – she trains 11 months of the year.

The twenty-three-year-old was born in Hong Kong and moved with her family to Auckland when she was four. She went to Epsom Girls Grammar and started playing badminton aged 10 and began training more professionally at 17. She is studying at Massey University extramurally for a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She plays for the College Rifles Club and is supported and sponsored by Massey University.

Badminton New Zealand chief executive Nicki Martin says the whole of New Zealand badminton is following Michelle’s progress closely.

“Michelle represents the new future of our sport. We have a clear strategy in place that focuses on raising New Zealand badminton to new levels internationally. We are putting place a high performance programme that seeks to create the pathways necessary to take other young players with talent and determination like that displayed by Michelle to international tournament success. We are putting in place stronger coaching structures and will seek to build the regional capability of the sport. We will also be setting out to build more sustainable funding to allow badminton to grow.

“We will always want New Zealand players to be competing in Europe and Asia but we see a time in the next decade when New Zealand’s international rise will attract overseas players to base themselves here to take advantage of the quality of competition.

“Efforts such as Michelle Chan’s will ensure people start to take notice of New Zealand as a competitor nation. We are delighted by her success which has come from hard work, focus and determination. We now need find her a greater level of sponsorship.”