The Badminton Team for Glasgow 2014 has been finalised! Anna Rankin, Michael Fowke, Michelle Chan, Joe Wu and Kevin Dennerly-Minturn tell us what it's like to be selected to represent New Zealand.
1. How does wearing the Silver Fern give you strength?
Anna: I feel incredibly proud to have the honour of wearing the Silver Fern. Knowing how hard I have worked to earn that privilege is definitely a source of strength. It also gives me a sense of belonging and camaraderie to the greater NZ team and the NZ athletes who have come before us - this includes my Nana, who represented NZ in hockey. For me, wearing her Silver Fern brooch on my blazer will give me strength knowing that those who are no longer with us will still be with me throughout this journey.
Michael: It reminds you that you're not just playing for yourself or your team, but also representing the entire country. The fact that the Silver Fern is a common symbol across all New Zealand sporting teams makes you feel like you're united in the same cause to compete as well as possible.
Michelle: It gives me strength as it makes me a part of the whole nation. I know I am not only representing myself but have the support of the whole nation behind me. It motivates me to represent NZ in the best possible way.
Joe: It is with immense pride that I have the privilege to be able to represent New Zealand. Wearing the Silver Fern goes beyond being a symbol, it is a positive energy of unity in the New Zealand Team.
Kevin:The Silver Fern represents the bigger picture of what you play for. It gives meaning and perspective. It lines you up against every other NZ athlete who wears and that gives you all the motivation in the world.
2. What does representing New Zealand mean for you?
Anna: Travelling a lot as an athlete, I always feel extremely proud to say that I am a Kiwi. Representing NZ at such a pinnacle event, knowing that I have the support of family, friends and the NZ badminton community behind me, is something quite special.
Michael: To continue the good reputation that many generations of New Zealand athletes have created previously and try add to it. Ive always been very passionate about supporting any New Zealand sporting team - whether its rugby, soccer or basketball etc. To have the chance to play for my country and know that this time its us that the passionate New Zealand sporting public are cheering for.
Michelle: It's every athlete's dream to be able to represent his or her country. Having another chance to show NZ and the world the great qualities of NZ athletes is very special.
Joe: Pride; the New Zealand Team has always had an awesome environment and atmosphere, and this means a lot even though we are competing in a minority sport in NZ
Kevin: Representing New Zealand means standing up against the rest of the world and showing what a small proud country can do. It means playing for myself, my family and friends and the community who stands behind the sport we love.
3. What are 3 attributes that every good badminton player needs?
Anna: Passion, a strong work ethic and good mental focus. I think passion for the game is the most important - when you love what you are doing, it doesn't feel as much like hard work.
Michael: Fast reactions, explosive speed and a willingness to work hard.
Michelle: Passion. Patience. Honesty
Joe: Mentally Strong, Physically Strong and Completely Agile
Kevin: Technique, physicality (relaxed, fast and strong), and an endless amount of determination and mental strength
4. How did you get into Badminton?
Anna: When I was younger, I tried a lot of different sports. A notice came around at school when I was 11, inviting people to try Badminton. I went along with my two older brothers and made it in to the Southland team that year.
Michael: I had a friend at primary school whose Mum ran the Hamilton Junior Club. I started going along on Friday nights and instantly loved it.
Michelle: My mum used to play and still plays at mid-week ladies mornings. She would take my three older sisters and myself with her and we would just play at the back of the courts. As soon as I was old enough, I joined after school groups at College Rifles.
Joe: Influence of my parents.
Kevin: My Mum plays and then after showing some interest I started having coaching from a top player (Rhona Robertson).
5. Come up with your own inspirational quote that reflects you
Anna: Your effort and passion act as fuel for your journey. If you love what you do and give the best you can every day, you will be surprised at how far you can go.
Michael: "Hard work beats talent when talent doesnt work hard." Former NBA Basketballer, Kevin Durant.
Michelle: Whenever I come across really tough times in training or matches, I have to face it, go through it and not run away from it.
Joe: Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish (borrowed from Steve Jobs)
Kevin: I have given many years of my life to do something I love. Its not a sacrifice its a choice. I am not afraid of working hard, and only I deep down will know when I reflect, how good I am. But I am here to perform. I am not afraid of winning. I have a story to tell and everybody who walks on court against me will see my story.