Pictured: Simon Leung and Gronya Somerville (Australia). Photo Credit: Badminton Photo
Simon Leung made his Olympic debut a fortnight ago in the mixed doubles discipline, alongside his partner Gronya Somerville.
The pair are the two-time and reigning Oceania Mixed Doubles Champions and caught the attention of fellow athletes and viral videos following their valiant efforts against the world’s top ranked pairs.
Reflecting on the unique opportunity, we caught up with Simon to relive the highlights from his experience:
What was your favourite moment from Tokyo 2020?
There were so many great memories and moments, but I think one moment that stands out was the moment we stepped out on to court on day one and realise that I’m here, at the Olympics. Me, competing at the Olympics…is actually becoming reality. The nerves I felt walking on court, to starting the match was unlike any other. It is definitely one for the books which I will always remember and cherish.
What was going through your head as you stepped onto the Olympic courts for the first time?
Nerves! That was the biggest feeling I felt. I remember as we were in the marshalling area waiting to walk out, I was shaking and just so nervous. I’ve been nervous before in big comps but the nerves I felt in Tokyo were next level. I kept telling myself, just go out there, enjoy the moment of being here at the Olympics. Enjoy and have the time of your life out there. And luckily that is what me and Gronya did.
Favourite moment in a particular game?
There were for sure a few favourite moments across the three matches – I can narrow it down to two. One that I have in mind is being down 20-14 in the first set against Praveen Jordan and Melati Oktavianti (Indonesia) and coming back to win 22-20, followed by a 17-14 lead in the second. That was for sure a huge surprise for us and everyone. My other favourite memory would be the racket change Gronya did in our match against Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino (Japan), where we went on to win that rally. I’ve done it a few times before in my matches but to do it at the Olympics, is not easy since the pressure and level of badminton is so present.
Did you meet any of your favourite athletes (badminton or non-badminton), if so who and why?
To see any athlete there is just an amazing experience because everyone is an elite athlete and we are all there for a reason. But to meet greats like Cate Campbell, Patty Mills, our flag bearers was so cool. I also got to meet a few of the Australian basketball players which was cool. I had some fun chats with them before the opening ceremony began.
Was there anything that surprised you about the Olympic Games?
The one thing that caught me by surprise was how much the Olympic Games mean to each athlete. It was always an important, special occasion that as athletes we cherish and really hold close to our hearts. However, seeing the culture, the atmosphere that was at the Australian HQ, what it meant to be an Australian athlete and represent this great country at the Olympic games, it really took the meaning of an Olympian for Australia to another level. It definitely is an eye opener, the Olympics is definitely an honour to be at, and to do it in the Green and Gold, that’s definitely a privilege which I would never take for granted.
Are there any interesting facts about the Games that the ‘average joe’ might not know about?
All types of facilities and services are available pretty much any time you need them. The dining hall is open 24/7! So I guess if you’re bored, you can just go and eat! I am realty grateful and truly thankful for the services that the staff have put together for us. We had a gym set up for Aussie athletes, we had massage and physio staff on hand whenever we need them. It is not something you can get a hold of easily in everyday life. The staff were just so helpful.
What does the future hold for you after this experience?
The future is still up in the air but for sure I hope to see myself wear the green and gold again. The Commonwealth Games are just around the corner as well, and that is one event I haven’t been a part of yet for the least, so to take part in that would definitely be another milestone check.
Next year’s Commonwealth Games are the Birmingham 2022 edition, set to take place from Thursday 28 July – Monday 8 August 2022. The Games could be another first for Simon, who has yet to earn his green and gold kit for a Commonwealth Games.