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Athletics | SA Track & Field

Bongani van Bodenstein © SuperSport.com

Commonwealth changed Van Bodenstein perception

Bongani van Bodenstein might not have won a game at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, but he left thinking like a winner.

The Tuks player who is competing from today at the USSA Tournament in Durban gets quite excited when talks about his experience during the Games. It has changed his whole approach to playing badminton.

Where in the past he would not have thought twice to go and have a beer with friends after attending his last class at Tuks he is now out training. He realises that success and sacrifices go hand in hand. The goal he set himself is if he gets to represent South Africa at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo is that he is not just going to be another name in the draw.

“Getting to go to the Commonwealth Games was, without doubt, the best thing that could have happened to me. In the past, I have represented South Africa at the World Junior Championships and World Student Games. The big difference this time around was that I got to stay in an athlete’s village where I got to rub shoulders with some of the world’s best players.

“I saw Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and was astonished by his professional approach to the sport.”

Wei won the singles title at the Commonwealth Games and medalled a few times at the Olympic Games and the World Championships. When he was in his prime, he was the world’s best player for 199 consecutive weeks.

“But it was sitting down and talking with some players of Australia and England that changed my perception about being a badminton player.

“One player said to me that he got the impression that we as the South African players don’t believe we are good enough to compete internationally. We are getting intimidated too easily. According to him, it is wrong because we train just as hard as they do. The big difference is when they get to play they do so to win.

“I had to admit that he was right. In the past when I walked onto the court during an international tournament the last thing I thought about was winning. My only goal was to try and at least win ten points and sort of put up a good showing. When I think back to it now, I realise it was a somewhat 'childish' approach.

“It was suggested to me that I should start to keep a diary in which I wrote down my goals, small and long-term, and then tick it off on a daily basis to get disciplined. I started doing so, and it is motivating me.

“My whole approach to training has also changed. For the first time, I am up at 05:00 sprinting on the athletics track. I am also training to a specific program in the gym and on the court,” said the Tuks player who during the previous two USSA Tournaments won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles.


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