A lot has stayed the same since I last spoke here, yet so much has changed as well.

It’s probably been quite reflective of how the past month has gone… one week, you’re on the verge of completing the Olympic qualification process and the next… you’re halted from travelling abroad as part of national health measures and the Olympics itself are postponed!

All for good reason of course, as the world comes together to put health first and do all we can to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

As far as the Olympic qualification process… it has been a big year of travel, with my badminton partner Setyana Mapasa and I having competed in 23 BWF-sanctioned tournaments from around the world.

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Let’s just say you really get to know a person after being on the road for them for an entire year! 

In fact, for the past five years Setyana and I have spent more time together than we have our own families, and over that period we have developed a bond and a friendship that allows us both to test and challenge each other respectively, in a bid to help each other be the best team we can be.

In hindsight, our early on-court partnership required more time and patience than we first imagined it would, simply because we were two very competitive, very independent athletes.

And of course, all that really factored into our thinking, was winning.

And look, that’s a wonderful thing! It’s part of what we both respected about each other when we first met, that we were both driven to be the best possible athletes we could be.

But Doubles, unlike Singles play, is a different beast altogether. You have to be on the same page at all times and any slight fractions in a Doubles partnership won’t take long to boil to the surface.

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In hindsight, I reckon our opposing teams could probably sense that too and took full advantage when they could to force Setyana and I in situations where we probably took it out on one another.

So while we both take enormous pride in our independence and how we have managed to get ourselves to the position we are now in on the BWF circuit… we knew that if our Doubles partnership was to ever work, we needed to park our egos to the side, and take the time to invest in each other’s play and take steps towards working on our off-court dynamic.

Essentially, we had to come together as friends, before we could come together as athletes and ultimately partners.

And, as expected it didn’t take long for us to start reaping the benefits to translate on-court. 

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Because we found that for us, our issues were quite reflective with how we performed on court. As soon as one of us struggled, the “friendship” simply wasn’t there to garner the respect of one another to call each other out, or simply help each other recalibrate and re-focus onto the next play.

We didn’t know how to support each other in the best way as competitors and to a large degree, we still have so much more ground to cover to get to where we both know we can as Doubles partners.

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Our relationship is still a work-in progress, but I would consider it more a “working” progress as we are definitely more of team dynamic, than we were previously.

If anything, the delays that are now in place for the foreseeable future for major BWF competitions, as well as the Tokyo Games, might actually benefit both Setyana and I in the long run, as the additional time together will only go some way towards helping us forge an even closer bond to the one we have now.