The Price of Stardom – Magical Marin

Posted: August 15, 2013 in Uncategorized
16 year old Marin winning her first senior title in Ireland.

16 year old Marin winning her first senior title in Ireland.

As the controversy surrounding the men’s singles final at the 2013 men’s singles final continues to dominate the badminton headlines the sport itself continues to draw headlines for all the wrong reasons.

One thing we can be assured of is that the ‘air con’ saga will run and run as the alleged match fixing saga and the alleged Chinese match manipulation has been the focus of attention for so many years now.  This type of controversy makes good headlines which sells print and unfortunately generates more revenue than the actual sport itself.

For me personally the recent worlds was all about the game. I have become used to the controversy so this time around my focus was purely on the game, players and results.

The men’s singles final may have been anti-climactical and let’s face it, it was always going to be hard to live up to the Olympic final of last year between the same two players, but this aside we had some tremendous matches, battles and with it the emergence of new stars.

As a European it was uplifting to see the performance of Spain’s Carolina Marin and after her performance in China most of the knowledgeable badminton people around the globe have her name as top of the ‘one of the future’ list.

I think differently in so far as Carolina to me is here and in the ‘now’ as she has been winning senior titles since 2008. Yes the Spaniard has spent most of the last 12 months off the first page of the world ranking list but it does not take a rocket scientist to work out she is so much better than that.

This week sees Marin climb to 17 in the world and firmly in place as Europe’s number 2 after Germany’s Juliane Schenk. Marin’s game and character is infectious. Yes she is vocal on court and there are many that don’t like this side to her game. I absolutely love this aspect of Carolina’s character. She is individual and unique and she is ‘all in’ when she is on court. To me her aptitude and her character should be harnessed and used to promote the sport in Europe on a far greater scale than it already is. She plays hard and fast and her personality draws you in to a point where you almost feel like you are on the court with her. The game as a whole is void of real superstars and any we do have are predominantly Asian and right now we have the makings of a real European star under our noses.

Across Europe many federations have been hit by the global downturn that seems to now have gone on for almost a decade. We see the repercussions of this on tour as players have to cut down on tournaments and in most cases travel without a coach. Spain is no different and to make sure the potential of Carolina Marin, and others for that matter, is fully realised we need to think more as a continent in relation to funding.

European Junior Success in 2011.

European Junior Success in 2011.

I have no doubt that Carolina Marin would already be inside the world’s top 10 if it was not for funding restrictions. Carolina Marin has everything going for her except the funding that befits her talent. It is also worth pointing out that both Marin & her compatriot Corrales have matured at a phenomenal rate this last year which goes to prove that in the face of adversity they who want it will always come through another trait might I add of a real star.

I do think in Europe we need a granting system for these type of players. A funding procedure whereby if you fulfil the criteria, no matter where you are from, you will receive the funding to help achieve top 10 status in the world. You will notice that Marin wear’s a small Badminton Europe logo on her shoulder in competition as she does receive some small funding from BE in a semi scholarship scheme as she has been identified as world class potential. This is a great toe in the water from Badminton Europe and it would be great to see this scheme developed in the future to include others that have world class potential.

Players like Marin need to train and spar with the best and it was great to see players from all Europe’s top nations train together before the worlds this year for a week in Denmark. This is such an important development as it is clear many of the home federations see the need to work together to close the gap on the powerful Asian nations.

It would be great to see this taken one step further and maybe twice yearly our top *female singles players come together for 2/3 weeks to work with former greats such as Tine Baun, Xu Huaiwen & Pi Hongyan. These greats have a database of knowledge that our young players would benefit from. Not just court skills but life skills which would serve to shape our top players of the future.

The simple fact of the matter is that as a continent we need to embrace our continental players as one and help those that need help as we go. We don’t need to mourn the loss of recent greats such as Peter Gade & Tine Baun, we need to make sure as a continent that Carolina Marin, and whoever comes along after her no matter where they are from, get the support services and funding they need which in the long run can only serve to enhance the reputation of badminton in Europe as a whole.

*applicable to all 5 badminton disciplines.


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