It’s still early in the second phase of his badminton life for Adam Dong. It was some 18 months ago that Nyl Yakura inspired him to return to a competitive career, and now Dong finds himself in Suzhou, the place he was born and lived in for the first 12 years of his life.
In the first phase of his badminton career, Dong moved to Nanjing from his birthplace Suzhou when he was 12, to be part of the Jiangsu badminton team. As a junior he’d become top three nationally and a men’s doubles silver medallist at the China Junior Games. After his retirement he moved to Canada to pursue a degree in sports management, took up coaching, and started a club in 2018.
The dream to continue his playing career was still there, but it was getting difficult.
His former partner Yakura had split with his Tokyo Olympics partner Jason Anthony Ho-Shue, and asked Dong if he still had the fire to compete.
“I thought I did, and I still love competing, that’s why I made this comeback. Of course it’s very satisfying,” says Dong. They won their first event, the Mexican International, in December 2021.
By a quirk of fate, Dong’s first major team event for Canada was the Sudirman Cup in his hometown. With his mother. family and friends in the stands, it was a special occasion for the 29-year-old as Canada took on Indonesia in their opening Group B tie. Unexpectedly, Dong was fielded in mixed doubles with Josephine Wu in the first match, and held their own against Adnan Maulana/Nita Violina Marwah before going down in 38 minutes.
“For sure it was emotional because a lot of friends and family came to support me, and also Suzhou has done a good job in hosting this tournament, so am happy to come back.”
“Our home was in the centre of Suzhou. That part hasn’t changed much, and that’s great about Suzhou, that they’ve maintained it. When I left for Nanjing I started missing my parents, the food. I was in the provincial team for around 10 years. My parents would visit me every month.”
As a player growing up, he dreamt of going to the Olympics, but it remained out of reach. Now, with Yakura as partner, the dream is very much alive. At No.39, they are Pan Am’s highest ranked pair.
In the two Group B ties, Indonesia beat Canada 5-0, while Thailand prevailed over Germany 4-1, with Mark Lamsfuss/Marvin Seidel earning a point for Germany. Interestingly for Canada, Talia Ng assumed women’s singles responsibilities while Michelle Li was fielded in women’s doubles with Catherine Choi.
Group C saw Chinese Taipei whitewash Australia 5-0 without dropping a game.