The VIU Mariners were a smash hit at badminton nationals.
Graydon Robb and Pat Thompson won gold in men’s doubles at the Canadian Colleges’ Athletics Association championships in Edmonton earlier this month.
Robb and Thompson defeated Langara’s Hugh Leung and Shurman Chan in the gold-medal match by scores of 21-19, 16-21, 21-16.
“They were on a mission,” said Janice Walker, coach of the VIU Mariners badminton team.
Robb and Thompson had been runners-up to Leung and Chan at the Pacific Western Athletic Association provincials in February, but the teams had been close all season. Walker said Robb and Thompson had been sick leading up to provincials and hadn’t been at their best at that tourney. They had the right mindset, though, at nationals, where they went undefeated.
Walker said the gold-medal match was intense.
“We were doing our best to work hard to be focused on one point at a time and not get too caught up in what was at stake,” said the coach.
The VIU duo was able to minimize errors and dictate the flow of play, which was important, as it kept the big Mariners on offence and gave them opportunities to go for booming smashes.
“Everybody wants to be on the attack, but it was huge for us,” Walker said. “If we can get on attack we have the upper hand.”
The duo was playing its one and only year together, as Robb is a freshman while Thompson is a senior. The two made major improvements to their communication on the court over the course of the season and by nationals, they hardly ever found themselves going after the same bird.
The gold medals will be enjoyed not only by the victors, but by the whole VIU badminton program.
“I hope that we’re going to see some more interest…” Walker said. “People see you in a new light, certainly, when you have a banner coming home. So we’ll hope that the strength of the team grows again.”