BRIDGEWATER - Peter Speight, Nova Scotia seniors recently-named badminton singles and doubles champ, says he learns much more from losing than winning.
Born and raised in Bridgewater, the natural athlete started playing badminton with his father at age 10. Two years later, he put the focus on competition, dropping tennis and karate.
"I found it so much fun," he recalls. "Badminton has longer rallies, the play is continuous at the upper level so fitness is more of a factor than in tennis."
Peter, at age 22, attends York University in Toronto for his final year of studies for a BA in psychology. He chose York because of its badminton program.
As "one of the best" in the Maritimes, it was difficult for him to improve his game. At York, badminton is a varsity sport. As such, the team and its travels are supported. Peter ranks second at York which recently brought home the Ontario university gold medal.
During his formative years, he was Nova Scotia's junior badminton champion several times. He went to the last Canada Games in Grande Prairie, Alberta. He was eligible for this month's games in Newfoundland but over a year ago decided to forego the opportunity, allowing him to devote his energies to senior competitions.
He was named Sport Nova Scotia badminton player of 1992, the year his sport became an Olympic event. He says he still has a ways to go before he's Olympic material but "maybe" in four years time.
"The first step was Ontario," he says, "being surrounded with better players. Training 12 hours a week with two on one drills, running and weights."
For the nationals, the next big tournament, Peter will be joined by his team's top ranking player. The pair will go to Quebec City to compete in singles and doubles.
"It's good to have him to train with," he says, "someone who can beat me."
Peter credits his early karate training with developing the discipline required to excel at a sport. "Drills aren't work to me, they're the route to getting better."
Peter likes talking about badminton and encouraging others to take up the lifetime sport. "The masters are 35-90 years," he says.
"It's not too expensive," he adds, admitting the feather shuttles cost more than the plastic. Players can buy 12 plastic shuttles for $12, 12 feathers cost $20. If they're steamed properly the night before a tournament, they last almost as long.
Bridgewater keeps popping up in the competitive world of badminton. Not only does it claim Peter, but also Michael Smith, as reported in these papers, Junior Atlantic badminton champion in singles and doubles.
While home for his spring break, Peter took Michael to the Stratacona Club in Halifax to face some tough new competition. He firmly believes the road to success demands some failures along the way.
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