“I can’t believe I got to do it. I met all the players I know from YouTube. It was a badminton nerd’s dream come true!” So says Yuko Kawasaki about competing at the Badminton World Championships in Glasgow in August. She and her mixed doubles partner Tuck Chan played in 10 international tournaments over the past year, earning enough points to qualify for the honor. Their wins in Cuba and Thailand got them to the total points they needed.
Despite losing their first match in Glasgow to a brother-sister team from Ireland (former Olympians), Yuko said all her work to get there was worth the experience. “It was a beautifully put together tournament. Everything went so smoothly, and the other players were very welcoming and supportive. It was really a warm and fuzzy atmosphere.”
Yuko and Tuck knew they’d face daunting competition, as all the other players are full-time professional athletes with sponsorships from companies and their home countries, and typically in their 20’s. Yuko’s training regimen of the track, the gym, weight-lifting, and court time had to fit into her busy life as a mother to three kids, assistance director of nursing at El Camino, and chair of the Junior Badminton program at MBBC. “My kids forgot what I looked like sometimes,” she said, “but they and my husband Greg were incredibly supportive. But that was it – I’m not gonna do it again!”
So Yuko says, she admits that she still wants to play in Russia, Egypt, and may just accept that invitation she received to play in a tournament in Morocco.