Reid and Grether Settle for Silver in Iran
While you hear daily about the unrest in the Middle East, Nicole Grether and I experienced a different side of Iran on the badminton courts.
Nicole and I traveled to Tehran to join players from over 30 countries to compete in the 21st Fajr Iran International Badminton Tournament. While the players had to adapt both on and off the court to the culture we experienced the kindness of the Iranian players and the joy of sport.
It was a new experience for us not to have a mixed double event at an individual BWF tournament and to compete with only women or men in the hall at one time. During our matches the women did not wear a head scarf while competing, therefor the men were not allowed to watch the women play. The spectators were great as they were cheering us on and you could see they enjoyed watching the matches.
It was a bit challenging for us compete in Tehran as the capital is 1200 meters above sea level. This makes it harder to breathe because of the altitude, and also makes the shuttlecocks faster. As well the women only played one session a day making it difficult to recover properly in a short period of time. On Thursday and Friday we played 3 matches in just over 3 hours.
Away from competing on the courts on Friday there was a peaceful demonstration down the street from our hotel. The players were told to stay in their rooms until it was over just in case. They changed the schedule for the quarter finals and semi-finals, and started them after the demonstration later that evening. Although we had security guards watching over us, we were not allowed to go too far from the hotel or badminton hall until the last day when we were lucky to get a chance to see the city after the finals.
After Nicole and I won seven tournaments in a row our winning streak came to an end in the finals as we had to settle for the silver medal. We defeated two Iranian teams and a Turkish team to reach the finals and lost in a close match 21-17, 22-20 to Nimeshika Ratnasiri Achini and Samanthika Weerasasinghe Upuli from Sri Lanka. In singles action I reached the quarter finals and Nicole had a great win in the semi-finals defeating Anne Hald and then capturing the gold with a win against Nair Dhanya from India.
It was a special experience to compete in Iran and we found the hospitality of the players and organisers to be superb.
Our next major tournaments are the All England’s Premier Super Series in Birmingham followed by the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold in Basel starting March 8. We are currently #17 in the world.