On fast shut­tle to suc­cess

NAT­U­RAL RISE FOR GIFTED ATH­LETE

Southern Gazette (Belmont) - - SPORT -

THEODORE Kang was de­scribed as a nat­u­ral from the mo­ment he picked up a bad­minton rac­quet.

His fa­ther Ni­cholas Kang points to the ses­sion when the Wes­ley Col­lege stu­dent was “muck­ing around” with his brother Ru­pert in late 2013 and for­mer world num­ber 1 Yuli Zheng saw him at the be­gin­ning of his young bad­minton ca­reer.

“She said he was very nat­u­ral and she in­vited him to join her club with his brother. He was mainly just muck­ing around with the sport at this time,” he said.

“About three months later, he played in a State tour­na­ment in the un­der-11s sec­tion and he came sec­ond and this was with min­i­mal train­ing.”

Af­ter gain­ing the at­ten­tion of na­tional coaches at sub­se­quent tour­na­ments, in­clud­ing 2010 Com­mon­wealth ath­lete Ni­cholas Kidd, the 13-year-old has had a me­te­oric rise.

He was se­lected in the Aus­tralian Na­tional Ju­nior Squad three times and rep­re­sented Aus­tralia in in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments in Sin­ga­pore and New Zealand.

Theodore is also in Wes­ley Col­lege’s Long-Term Ath­letic De­vel­op­ment pro­gram, which started this year at the school.

He trains about 25 to 30 hours per week on and off the court, which in­cludes strength and con­di­tion­ing and play­ing other sports such as row­ing and wa­ter polo.

Theodore said he en­joyed play­ing bad­minton be­cause it meant play­ing with dif­fer­ent peo­ple, who had dis­tinct ways of play­ing.

“The high­light so far has been play­ing in youth tour­na­ments in Sin­ga­pore be­cause I was able to play against in­ter­na­tional play­ers, who all have dif­fer­ent styles of play­ing,” he said. “My long-term is goal is to make the 2022 Com­mon­wealth Team and the 2024 Olympic Team but short-term, I just want to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia more.”

Theodore flew to Thai­land last week to start three months of train­ing in Asia. He will spend the first month at the Ban­thongy­ord Bad­minton School in Bangkok be­fore train­ing at Djarum in In­done­sia.

Mr Kang said his son played bad­minton with re­spect to his op­po­nent, no mat­ter who they were.

Pic­ture: Will Rus­sell

Theodore Kang plays his sport in the right spirit, fa­ther Ni­cholas said. “He doesn’t try to trash or em­bar­rass who­ever he is play­ing.” www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d470433

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