UTM’s varsity badminton team has been on a meteoric rise for the last several semesters and has its sights set on absolute victory. Just last year, Bryan Bai and his team made the cut to regionals, and this year they outdid themselves, qualifying for provincials. Bai himself is confident that next year, his team has the potential to break into the holy grail of varsity badminton—the national competitions.

A fourth-year student of the applied sciences and a true fan of hip-hop, Bryan Bai has been with the varsity badminton team since day one. Although now an experienced athlete with four years of varsity experience under his belt, Bai was first introduced to the sport when he was five years old, in his hometown of Hangzhou, China. He recalls accompanying his parents to a badminton course but quickly losing interest as being unable to even touch the birdie due to a ridiculously short arm span. Fast forward about a decade, Bai revisited the sport and this time, it helped turn him into a formidable athlete. Throughout his high school years, Bai has competed and won several badminton competitions. Thus, when entering university, he was determined to apply for the varsity team and hone his skills at a much more competitive level.

Bai spends a considerable amount of time, almost five days per week, training himself in badminton practice. Although, he claims it to be a thrill to play this exciting, adrenaline-infused sport. Having to dedicate such time and attention to this skill, Bai also credits his coaches to be a vital influence in his life. In fact, Bai says that the coaches “teach me a lot about how to balance my hobby, work and study as a student and with time management.”

As an athlete, Bai also idolizes Lin Dan, a professional badminton player who has won two Olympic championships, five World Championships, and many other accomplishments, such as being a six-time All England Champion. Bai admires Dan for the exact reason of his awe-inspiring prowess within the sport. Bai further states that one of the items on his bucket-list is to play alongside Dan in a match. Apparently, just witnessing Dan’s talent would impart a significant learning experience for Bai to enhance his own skills. In fact, that’s what Bai claims badminton to be about—a game of fitness, mental strategy, and above all, reflexes. The speed of movements and split-second decisions are crucial in a badminton match. Unlike other sports, badminton allows little time to rest. As such, the stamina and fitness of a player is important, along with how he uses mental strategies to combat his opponent at a cognitive level as well as to push himself past mental barriers of endurance.

Bai even specializes in mixed-doubles where he plays matches with a partner. In this scenario, Bai states that communication with your partner is essential to the game.

Although currently on the badminton team, Bai hopes to be a lifelong player and to always practise the sport in the future. According to him, playing badminton is “good for your brain, body and everything. It doesn’t make you lazy and keeps you active.” Following this philosophy, Bai also plays several other sports to keep up his fitness, including swimming, soccer, and table tennis. Bai has even won a table tennis competition last year in the ping-pong club. Along with the pros, Bai has also suffered the cons of an athletic lifestyle. Bai has sustained major injuries to his ankle and waist. Although a hindrance while playing, Bai has pushed past these injuries to maintain a deep loyalty to the sport.

Bryan Bai has another year left for his undergrad, within which he hopes to exceed his ability and reach the national competitions for varsity badminton. As such, Bai and his team aren’t just competing for themselves, but rather striving to push UTM forward and represent ourselves as a powerhouse of athletic talent.