In Johannes, I have found a lifelong sport partner and friend.
When I first picked up badminton, it was largely a recreational sport I played with my family members.
I enjoy it, and have been properly coached to some extent, but have never played the sport at a competitive level. When I first began to volunteer with Special Olympics Singapore in April 2018, I started off playing badminton with the athletes with a recreational mindset as well.
But things started to take on a more competitive element when I was paired up with Johannes, an athlete with Down Syndrome.
Johannes, my doubles partner, is a skilled badminton player with fast reflexes. His style of playing is more offensive, which compliments my defensive playing style. The more I trained with Johannes, the more I felt that I needed to push my boundaries and perform better.
Today, both Johannes and I compete in doubles for Special Olympics Singapore, and we play each match with a lot of pride and determination.
Johannes and I aren’t just badminton doubles partners. We’ve also forged a close friendship off the court, so we are very comfortable communicating with each other.
Johannes is a straight talker. This is very helpful especially during a game as it helps with the quick tactical decisions that we have to make. With every opponent we meet, there is bound to be some adjustments that has to be made.
Johannes will tell me if some of my shots or serves were not good and whether they were too high or too low. I took this as an opportunity to also brush up on my skills. To keep up with him, I took some time training on my own outside of our practice sessions together. I feel that I need to be the best that I can be, so that I do not let him down.
During our competitions, Johannes has a tendency to get stressed. At times, he can get very fixated on the win and this causes him additional stress. When this happens, I will try to talk to him and let him know that it is not all about the win, that we should be enjoying ourselves.
When we win, both of us will of course be ecstatic. We will smile, cheer, and give each other a hug. Our other team members would also be around to cheer us on and support us. A win is always satisfying. Through these wins, we realize that the hours we have put into training have not gone to waste.
Nonetheless, there is always the bitter result of losing. Naturally in a situation like this, one would feel sad by the outcome – maybe even guilty for not being able to support the rest of the team. When we confront our losses, Johannes may take it harder than I do and I recognize that in times like this, it is important for me to remind him that results do not mean everything. It is more important that we train harder to improve on our skills and keep our heads held high considering how far we have come since the start of our journeys.
I’m very thankful to have found a great badminton partner and friend in Johannes. He’s taught me so much on and off the court, and I wouldn’t exchange our camaraderie for anything in this world. We are different and alike all at the same time, and that’s the beauty of it.