Record hold­ing player a fan of game for life

She has rep­re­sented New Zealand 20 times in bad­minton and tennis and still serves on the Auck­land Bad­minton As­so­ci­a­tion com­mit­tee. Heather Rob­son sat down with Lau­ren Pri­est­ley for a chat. GOOD SPORTS

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Racket sports have brought Heather Rob­son en­joy­ment, friend­ship and even true love.

The Auck­land grand­mother met her hus­band, New Zealand’s high­est-ever ranked bad­minton player Jeff Rob­son, on a tennis court.

The cou­ple have ded­i­cated their lives to racket sports and to­gether set up the Ocea­nia Bad­minton Con­fed­er­a­tion with an Australian col­league.

Mrs Rob­son started play­ing tennis at age 10 and was ‘‘ roped into’’ bad­minton by friends 10 years later.

She was awarded the pres­ti­gious Bad­minton World Fed­er­a­tion Life­time Achieve­ment Award last month.

‘‘It [Bad­minton] with me.

just clicked

‘‘I car­ried en­joyed it.’’

Mrs Rob­son played in­ter­na­tional bad­minton un­til she was 40 but continued so­cially for many years.

She won a record seven New Zealand sin­gles ti­tles, nine na­tional dou­bles ti­tles and three mixed dou­bles ti­tles along­side her hus­band.

She made the semi-fi­nals of the All Eng­land Sin­gles in 1954 which was ‘‘the Wim­ble­don of Bad­minton in those days’’ and won the Ir­ish Ladies Sin­gles the same year.

On the tennis scene she played twice at Wim­ble­don and also won New Zealand dou­bles and mixed ti­tles.

She says play­ing top-level bad­minton was more phys­i­cally de­mand­ing than tennis.

‘‘It’s much harder and faster than it shows on tele­vi­sion. You’ve got a whole lot of over­head stuff but you’ve also got to have con­trol.’’

it on be­cause

I

Mrs Rob­son served as an ad­min­is­tra­tor af­ter she re­tired from play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally.

She was pres­i­dent of the Ocea­nia Bad­minton Con­fed­er­a­tion, New Zealand Bad­minton Fed­er­a­tion and Auck­land Bad­minton As­so­ci­a­tion. She is now a life mem­ber of all three or­gan­i­sa­tions. She was in­volved in the build­ing of the Auck­land Bad­minton hall in 1960.

She says the lack of pub­lic­ity bad­minton gets is dis­cour­ag­ing.

‘‘World­wide it’s a big sport but we can’t get past our rugby here.

‘‘There are so many other sports now so young peo­ple can just pick and choose.’’

The fam­ily as­pect of the sport means once peo­ple start they are of­ten in for life, she says. So­cial and masters classes are of­ten the strong­est in bad­minton clubs now. ‘‘It’s a life­time sport. ‘‘It was al­ways very fam­ily ori­en­tated. Peo­ple can con­tinue play­ing for a long time and it’s the fam­ily as­pect that of­ten keeps them.’’

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Ded­i­cated server: Heather Rob­son is in her 80s and has ded­i­cated her life to bad­minton. She was given a Life­time Achieve­ment Award for the sport last month.

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