Thomas Mereana-Ngauru, president of Badminton Cook Islands, Julie Carrel, secretary-general/ CEO of Badminton Oceania, Ngaoa Ranginui, Badminton Oceania executive board member and Badminton CI vice-president and Badminton Oceania president Loke Poh Wong. Photo: Melina Etches/22052602
Former badminton (senior) world champion Loke Poh Wong, who was recently elected the president of Badminton Oceania, will participate in the Oceania Masters in Paradise 2022 team tournament which starts this morning at the National Sports Arena in Nikao.
This is his first official visit and first tournament in the Cook Islands.
Looking trim and
fit at the age of 64, he has already started training with his local team.
Born in Malaysia,
he started playing as a kid. “It’s a natural sport for us, you’re born with it,
you know how to play and the resources in Asia with badminton is very strong,”
“It’s such a good
sport where its competitive and family orientated, not like other sports … with
badminton you can have the whole family on court.”
competition is great for the senior players and the location is an added bonus,
says Wong, adding “we are looking at bringing in some other tournaments like
the junior championships”.
“We hope to do
this event every two years and hopefully get other islands involved, it is a
very sought after event in the senior calendar.”
Wong has won four world (senior) championship medals –
one silver and three bronze: 2011 – Vancouver, Canada – silver, 2013 – Ankara,
Turkey – bronze, 2015 – Helsingborg, Sweden – bronze, 2017 – Kochi, India –
Sharing advice to upcoming players, he said: “First
thing is to be passionate about the sport and the rest will come.”
“One doesn’t have to be the top, the biggest, the
fastest players, there are many aspects of the sport members can embrace.”
Teams from New
Zealand and Australia arrived this week for the tournament.
Julie Carrel, the secretary
general/chief executive of Badminton Oceania, said initially the event was
scheduled to be held in 2020 but postponed due to Covid-19.
“This is great, we’ve
made it happen and we’ve ironed out the kinks,” said Carrel.
“The Cook Islands
is our best Pacific country around development, they understand development, they’re
bringing their kids through and developing some really good players and their
organisations, hand in hand.
“We support them,
and they support what we do and they deliver for us, it’s a win, win,” said
Carrel, who also praised the work of Thomas Mereana-Ngauru, the president of
Badminton Cook Islands and vice president Ngaoa Ranginui, who is also a
Badminton Oceania executive board member.
says he’s more than excited and relieved that the Sports Arena was made ready
in time for the tournament.
“Thanks to CIIC (Cook
Islands Investment Corporation) for making this happen for us.”