Badminton might not be one of the most popular spectator sports in North America; to most it’s considered more of a recreational game—something played in the summer at family barbeques. But to VIU’s Graydon Robb, badminton is more than just a casual game. Robb just finished an extremely successful season as a member of the VIU Mariners’ badminton team.
Although badminton isn’t a popular spectator sport in Canada, it is taken very seriously in other parts of the world. In fact, badminton has the second-largest worldwide participation of any sport in the world aside from soccer. But despite the sport’s worldwide popularity, Robb still finds that not everyone knows how popular the sport is. “It’s a really hidden community in Canada. But if you go anywhere else in the world it’s hugely popular. Professional badminton players are celebrities, ” he said. “But in Canada I get some weird reactions when I talk to people about it. Because here it’s considered a relaxing game.”
Competitive badminton runs in the family for Robb, who has been playing badminton all his life. “My mom was Pan-American Champion, the best in North and South America,” he said. “She won the U19 games when she was only 16 years old, which was a really big accomplishment.” But despite playing badminton from such a young age, Robb insists he didn’t really take the sport that seriously until a few years ago. “I had fun playing every day when I was younger,” he said. “Now I take it more seriously. I want to be the best in Canada.”
Robb is well on his way to being the best badminton player in Canada, and has picked up his fair share of awards along the way. Robb has won a number of championships and titles in his two years as a Mariner, including being named this year’s CCAA player of the year; he was also named last year’s VIU Mariners Athlete of the Year in 2014. Robb has also had success in doubles competitions these last two years. Last year, he was one half of the CCAA Men’s National Doubles Champions. This year, Robb and his mixed doubles partner Melissa Liuw won the Provincial gold medal and also picked up a silver medal at this year’s National Championships. He also represented Alberta in the Canada winter games, where he picked up a silver medal.
Robb is training everyday, either on the court or in the gym, but he has trouble getting as much time on the court as he would like. “I get about six to eight hours of court training time a week,” he said. “I’m trying to find a warehouse or some courts to open so that I can get enough gym time.”
Robb hopes to build on his success from the last two years at VIU. He hopes one day to become good enough to compete at badminton professionally overseas, a feat which is made more difficult because he is Canadian. But he feels like such high goals are within reach. “My friends who are just a little better than me are in Paris right now playing competitively. I’m almost as good as they are, so if I just train hard I can be there.”
Robb has come a long way in his two years since joining the VIU Mariners, amassing an impressive list of awards and achievements. With all that he has accomplished in the last two years, it wouldn’t be shocking if he did become Canada’s most successful badminton player.