Steve Jancetic / AAP News
Australia’s most recent Commonwealth Games badminton medallist tried her best to talk her kids out of taking up the sport.
He Tian Tang won bronze for Australia in women’s doubles at the 2010 Delhi Games, having previously claimed Olympic bronze representing China in 1996.
She gave her kids Angela and Jack Yu a taste of the Games by taking them along to the 2014 edition in Glasgow but wasn’t convinced they had the necessary drive to succeed in the sport.
The lack of faith was clearly misplaced, with the teens making their national debuts in Birmingham as part of a 10-strong Badminton team – one of three sets of siblings representing Australia at the Games.
“Mum tried (to steer us away from the sport) at the start because she knew we’d only play for fun,” 17-year-old Jack told AAP.
“She didn’t think we’d be able to go through all the pain and hard work, she didn’t think we’d put in a lot of effort.
“At the start she’d be like ‘if you want to play, you can play, but if you don’t, you can not play.
“But if you play you have to try very hard. That’s always stuck with me since I started.”
And the hard work has paid off, with Jack set to get first crack in the mixed teams event starting on Friday.
It’s his first major tournament, and while he has played in international events previously, he admits the cavernous NEC Arena being used for the Birmingham Games will provide its challenges.
“The venue’s very big, the ceiling’s very high, there’s big stands,” Jack said.
“There’s big holes that have a lot of drift, a lot of wind blowing the shuttles, so we have to find the timing … we have to try to adapt to it.”
Angela will have to wait a few days to get her chance, the 19-year-old is to take part in the women’s doubles and the mixed doubles.
Perhaps surprisingly to outsiders, the siblings are not slated to play together in the mixed doubles, with Angela to partner veteran Tran Hoang Pham, who is twice as old as the teen.&nb sp;
That’s not to say Jack won’t have an impact on Angela’s play, given she credits her brother for being both the inspiration and exasperation behind her fledgling career.
“I’ve just never been physically stronger than my brother,” Angela said.
“I lost confidence a lot because I couldn’t beat him, and my mum was like ‘maybe just don’t play’.
“But then every time I see him play, it’s like ‘I need to beat him.”