Archive for December, 2012

Top step of the podium at last.

Top step of the podium at last.

In general the perception of us Irish around the world is that of a beer guzzling bunch of happy go lucky fly by nighters living on an Island which for most part acts as a windshield for the rest of Europe.

Being Irish I know that in many ways we are the orchestrators of that perception ourselves and in an even more twisted way we have prospered with that Identity for decades. In the same way that the fairytales and fables of fairies and leprechauns are myth so too are these perceived views of my homeland.

However one thing I can say we are with my hand on my heart is that we are a nation of begrudgers. It has been inbuilt into our DNA to scorn fellow Irishmen that are seen to be doing well or achieving success in their field both home and away unless of course there is something to be gained from the obligatory hand shake that always makes for a good photo opportunity.

With all the doom and gloom of the global recession and the press that Ireland has got over the past 6 years anything that we achieve as a nation or indeed any of us achieve as individuals personally should be applauded and if nothing else be a source of great national pride. This goes for any nation around the globe but as a Irishman success comes to the very few and knowing someone who has achieved something is even more rare.

That is why last Sunday, when the majority of Irish people were eating Sunday dinner and even worse the majority of Irish people who claim to love badminton were doing whatever they do on Sundays, one of Irelands own finally achieved something great that he has dreamt about since he was 14 years old.

The headline for this article pretty much gives the scenario away but Scott Evans achieved what was fated to him by winning his first International title and more so he did it on home soil.

For those of you that don’t know Scott had been for so many years the nearly man of the European circuit. 6 previous final appearances and only 6 runners up spots to show for it. Many have questioned his attitude and after what was probably the worst 18 months of his career many doubted he would ever get the chance again.

I was fortunate or unfortunate to witness three of those losses and there is not much that can be said or done to console any player that has failed at the final hurdle. I particularly remember the instance in Lithuania in 2011 where Scott lost in the final to Kestutis Navickas and the podium photograph itself tells the whole story. Another near miss was in Manchester at the European championships when Scott was within one point of winning a medal. These occasions are stamped in my brain forever.

But that was a different Scott Evans on that occasion. Any time I have seen Scott before a final there has been so many nerves and almost a niggling agitation. This time in Dublin there was calmness and in a way I have never seen before Scott was the guy who was more relaxed than anyone else in the hall.

Picture tells the tale. Lituanian loss.

Picture tells the tale. Lituanian loss.

Prior to the finals I had interviewed Scott in each of the victories and he was the one talking me through the interview and giving off the calming vibes when usually it is the other way around.

The final itself was not a classic and it is fair to say the Scott pretty much dominated the match as he had dominated his side of the draw for the whole tournament. The Dundrum man took his time to put young Frenchman Lucas Corvee away in the end but as the memory of Lithuania and Manchester are etched in my mind forever so are the scenes that followed Scott’s match winning shot in Dublin last Sunday 9th December 2012.

Immediately Scott turned to his mum, who has been there and seen it all with Scott, as she ran onto the court to embrace and congratulate her son in only the way a proud mother can. The release of emotion was immense and it was difficult for me to hold my emotions back while commentating on TV. (watch the winning point by clicking HERE)

Scott had finally done it; he had finally won a tour event and won it with style.  In a strange way the six defeats could only have served to have been a motivation and catalyst for the win and made this victory all the more sweet.

My only regret on the day is not to have been in the position to shoot the photograph of that epic moment but I can say I was there and witnessed his greatest moment to date. If anyone is in doubt about how much the win meant to Scott Evans take a look at his post match interview where I had to literally cut the discussion short as Scott struggled with his emotions.  Click HERE for interview

All that is left for me to say is that from a person who has witnessed so many bad moments in Scott’s career to be there to witness his maiden victory was a heart warming experience. Maybe now this can be the catalyst for Scott to go and add more titles and leave a legacy as a multiple tour winner. I hope he does this and I believe he can. This victory can only serve to be a watershed and the monkey that has been on his back for so long has been set free.

A proud Irish badminton nut.