Elias Maublanc 3First-time finalists Tahiti will be turning to youth at this weekend’s TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup 2021, where eight of their players are below 20 years old.
Fourteen-year-old Elias Maublanc is one of those set to make his international debut, a step in realising his “dream of becoming the world’s greatest player”.
Upon hearing the news of his selection from his mother, his reaction was: “Why didn’t you tell me earlier, I only have a month so now I’m training even more than usual.”
Following in the footsteps of older brothers Antoine and Louis Beaubois, who have represented Tahiti on numerous occasions, Maublanc is excited to put his seven years of playing under them to test in one of the biggest ways possible.
Unlike most of the players in Vantaa, Finland, Maublanc has been spending his weeks of preparation cramming in extra training sessions before school daily and sticking to a stringent schedule.
“I wake up at 4.30am and practice physical training before leaving for school at 6am. When I go back home at 2.45pm, I’ll finish my homework and continue training,” he said.
“If not, I watch matches on YouTube to correct my moves or strategy. Most nights I get to practice from 6-7.30pm. I usually keep watching and learning from matches online until I fall asleep.
“I like everything that constitutes badminton; the sound of the shuttlecock, the sound of your shoes on the floor, the speed, the strategy, the mindset, every little thing.”
It’s bound to be an inspirational yet awakening experience for the teenager, who is set to take on teams boasting Olympic and world champions.
“We know we are going to face some of the best in the world so we don’t have unrealistic expectations. We hope the players gain a lot from the experience that will motivate them for future events,” says Tahiti coach Léo Cucuel.
Tahiti had featured at the 2017 edition in Gold Coast, Australia but were not among the elite group competing for the title. In Finland, they will start their Group B campaign against Chinese Taipei on 26 September before taking on four-time champions Korea and Germany later in the week.
The team will then travel to Denmark for the TotalEnergies BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2020 (9-17 October 2021).
The men’s squad has a particularly tough draw, having to take on top seeds China in Group C. Maublanc is however, elated to be matched up against the team that developed his all-time favourite player Lin Dan.
“I’m impressed by his calmness on court, he’s really different from others. When I want to correct something on my footwork or technique, I principally watch his matches.”
** First published on Badminton Oceania website by Tom Leonard.