Pictured: Oliver Leydon-Davis and Anona Pak (New Zealand) competing at the VICTOR Oceania Championships 2022 (finishing as runners up)
Badminton athletes Oliver Leydon-Davis and Anona Pak have been named to the New Zealand Team for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The duo are New Zealand’s number one mixed doubles pairing, having been competing together domestically and internationally for three years. They secured their Commonwealth Games spots following a successful return to international competition in 2022, with results including a second placing in the recent Oceania Championships.
For 32-year-old Leydon-Davis, it’ll be his fourth Commonwealth Games having competed at Gold Coast 2018, Glasgow 2014 and Delhi 2010.
“It’s crazy to be going to my fourth Games,” said Leydon-Davis.
“It’s a real privilege to still be going and I’m really looking forward to getting to Birmingham and pulling on the fern again.”
The Hamilton local says he and Pak were unable to compete internationally for much of 2020 and 2021, so instead trained relentlessly in Auckland.
“Anona and I have been getting better and better and just building up our skills and teamwork. We’re feeling good and are really excited to show what we’re capable of in Birmingham”
For Pak, Birmingham 2022 will be her debut Commonwealth Games. The 28-year-old has been playing badminton since she was a child and says she’s always dreamed of going to the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
“I feel really proud to be wearing the fern and it’s a privilege to be part of the team and to get to represent New Zealand alongside all the other sports and athletes,” said Pak.
“As a kid my mum made me try out a whole heap of sports. I did swimming, table tennis, squash but badminton was the one that stuck. You have to really use your brain and there’s so much strategy and skill that’s involved, I really love it.”
Outside of sport Pak speaks five languages and has a degree in medical lab science.
The pair are coached by Olympian Rikke Olsen Siegemund who has won four Badminton World Cup medals. The trio will head to Asia for several international tournaments before finishing their Commonwealth Games build-up in Europe.
NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol extended her congratulations to the athletes.
“Well done to Oliver and Anona. It’s great to have you flying the flag for badminton in the New Zealand Team and we look forward to watching you take on the rest of the Commonwealth in a few months’ time in Birmingham,” said Nicol.
The naming takes the total number of athletes currently selected to the New Zealand Team for Birmingham 2022 to 65.