Toby Ng dons maple leaf for badminton
By Nathan Rumohr
Toby Ng knows his badminton team will be an underdog at the Summer Olympics in London, July 27 to Aug. 12, but that's not stopping the 27-year-old Vancouver College graduate from thinking big about the world-sporting showcase.
"My goal is to play as if I were number one," Ng told The B.C. Catholic July 17. "I figure we have nothing to lose: no pressure, just opportunity."
Ng compared his Olympic opportunity to the Parable of the Talents (Mt. 25:14-30). He said, like the slaves in the parable, he has received a talent: to play badminton well. He hopes to make something of his opportunity and not bury himself in the ground like the one slave who buries his talent.
Ng described his journey to the Olympics as tough. He and his badminton partner Grace Gaoto moved to Calgary to train with his coach Kim Dong Moon, a South Korean gold medalist in the 1996 and 2004 Olympics. But before Ng's team began their Olympic qualifying, Kim moved back to South Korea to pursue a career as a professor.
Ng still credits his coach's instruction for allowing him to compete in the Olympics.
"Kim was a tremendous player in his prime, and he is also an exceptional coach, teaching us things that World Class players do," Ng said. "Without him, I don't think we would have made it."
Ng started playing badminton at the age of 6. He played in his first tournament two years later and did quite well, "so my parents kept me competing," he said. "I progressed and I started competing more and more as I grew up."
He credits hard work for his success, and playing more than other kids, but he stopped practising as much in his teens.
"In the end I played more as I got older, and I think that put me back near the top of the group."
He competed nationally at 15 but was unable to capture a national championship. He started to compete internationally at 21.
"Oddly enough, I actually earned my first international title before I finally won a national one."
Ng also played badminton during his days at Vancouver College, but only recreationally. That changed, though, in Grade 11, when Ng lobbied for a senior badminton team.
"Finally in Grade 12 we were able to create a badminton team with players from Little Flower Academy, with the help of my physics teacher at the time, Mr. Kim," Ng said. His brother Derrick also coached the team.
Ng is excited about wearing the maple leaf in London and hopes to do his country proud.
"I'm quite excited to represent Canada at the Games because it is quite a rare event. I really appreciate this opportunity and I will do my best to compete to the best of my abilities."