Pictured: Oliver Leydon-Davis and Anona Pak, New Zealand. Photo Credit: Badminton Photo
Badminton Oceania has caught up with Badminton New Zealand’s top Mixed Doubles pair, Oliver Leydon-Davis and Anona Pak, who head into this year’s Championships as top seeds.
Oliver Leydon-Davis is the reigning men’s doubles champion, but will be focusing solely on the mixed doubles draw in this year’s event. The pair will be competing fresh from international expeirence in Europe, having recently competed in the YONEX Gainward German Open 2022, YONEX All England Championships 2022 and YONEX Swiss Open 2022.
The Continental Championships (which are equivalent to an International Challenge in World Ranking points) are of significance for the kiwi duo, who are eagerly anticipating qualification for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. This requires a placing within the World’s Top 50 by the end of qualification period (mid-May) and the pair currently sit at 60 in the World Rankings.
Listen to what the pair had to say about their previous Oceania Championships, European tournaments and preparations for this year’s tournament:
Let’s start by reflecting on your recent European venture. What was it like to compete internationally and how has the standard developed since COVID-19 began?
Anona: “The level of badminton at the international level is always very high and intense. There are many good players around, it is good learning experience for us and also a way to see where we compare against them. The level definitely improves every single time.”
What are some key takeaways on your recent performance at the German Open and All England Open?
Oliver: “We’ve been playing together a little over 2 years, but through the pandemic and everything I wouldn’t say it’s a long time. We’re there to win, and to do that means you need to beat everyone so our focus will be on whoever our next match is. There will be plenty of good pairs in the draw.”
What is your weekly training schedule like?
How do you usually prepare before a match?
What is the biggest challenge for New Zealand players to compete internationally?
Oliver: “We’re really lucky in New Zealand with the facilities we’ve got for Badminton, most of the halls are very good (although most get pretty cold!). The difficult thing is being able to compete internationally on a regular basis, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made that even more tricky recently.”
What is your best advice for younger players aiming to make a career in badminton?
Written by Alex Deng
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