(Photo: Badminton Photo)
USA’s Iris Wang impresses in Thailand and shares her CoE experience
Date: 1/20/2021 11:00 AM
Published by : Louis Hinnant & Alan Raftery
Iris Wang, ranked 50 in the world for women’s singles, shares her goals for her time at the Centre of Excellence (CoE) and what she’s taken away from training in cities across the globe.

Wang, 26, from California, spent some time training at Badminton Europe’s CoE in Denmark either side of Christmas and is currently in Bangkok for the two Thailand Opens. After a strong first tournament, defeating Denmark’s Line Kjæersfeldt, but succumbing to the eventual semifinalist, Mia Blichfeldt, she has come into this week with confidence. 

The 2019 Pan American Games bronze medallist faced Korea’s Kim Ga Eun, ranked 33 places higher at 17 in the world. Wang was a game down and 19-15 down in the second but mounted a colossal comeback to win in three games. 

In the second-round tomorrow, she faces her biggest Pan Am rival in Canada’s Michelle Li. Having played nine times, Li, the three-time Pan Am Games gold medallist has won all of them. However, Wang has been working hard on improvements to her game.

Be more deceptive
The agile American knows her strengths and weaknesses as a player and has a few areas of her game she has been focusing on when training at the CoE.

- My style because I am small, is the running style, to outlast my opponent. My goal would be to add more to my game, to create more winning shots. I hope I can be more deceptive because I think I play very straightforward, and that is something I’d like to work on while I’m here.

Many players are focused on improving their ranking to make the Olympic cut-off but Wang has a slightly different perspective.

- I was trying to qualify for Tokyo 2020, but my situation is a little unique because Beiwen [Zhang] is ahead of me, so I am not sure how that would work for this year. I just want to improve.

- For tournaments, like everyone else, my goal is to get the gold. It is hard for a lot of players right now, because there are not many tournaments, so it’s hard to find motivation for some, she adds.

Training in Denmark vs USA
Although she arrived at the CoE just before Christmas, Wang has settled in nicely. She appreciates how the CoE training program is more structured.

- For me, training in the US is a lot of me having to set up training myself. Whereas here there are two training sessions each day, Monday to Friday, and then the coaches here have it all planned out, and there are a lot more players here, a lot more sparring.

The ongoing pandemic has necessitated many changes to the tournament schedule. Wang had this to say about the general atmosphere of practice at the moment.

- I think it’s hard, again because of COVID-19 and because of the uncertainty of what’s going to happen next week? Will there be training? Will there be a lockdown? It’s hard for players to deal with uncertainty, not just for players but for everyone.

This uncertainty hasn’t stopped her teammates from giving her a warm welcome.

- I think the team environment is quite welcoming, everyone has been nice to me. If I need help or anything, I do not feel afraid to ask. People are quite friendly here.

Training in China
Wang has also trained in multiple Chinese cities as well. She feels there’s a marked difference between Asian and European approaches to player development.

-  It was a lot stricter. It was a lot harder physically. I think they train differently. I think Asia mainly focuses on physical training because they have so many players, I think it works, whoever can be the strongest or outlasts the others rises to the top. I think here they train with higher intensity, the intervals for training are smaller, sometimes less than a minute interval or two minutes, whereas in Asia it would be like ‘15 minutes defence’. Again, there’s pros and cons to both.

To watch a video from Jeroen van Dijk, Head Coach of the Centre of Excellence, click here

For more information about the CoE click here

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