THESE YONEX BADMINTON SHOES FEEL SOLE GOOD

Convinced by a live raw egg demo of the Yonex Power Cushion technology at Yonex Brunei Open Ike Shio Cup earlier this year and a burning need to replace my worn out shoes, I went shopping and bought a pair of  Yonex SHB 85 LTD. Badminton is a great end-of-the-week stress remover for me due to its high intensity cardiovascular workout. The nature of the game requires these high tech shoes to elevate my play so it’s critical that the feet are appropriately cushioned on touch down. The 3 key points Yonex drive: 1) eases the shock when landing (the power of shock absorption) 2) transfers shock into energy (the power of rebound) and 3) generates more kick (the power of compression and repulsion) collectively give the wearer reduced muscle fatigue and more aggressive play.

SHB 85 LTD High Performance. A highly modified unisex version of the very successful SHB 85 this shoe with extra support given by the Carbon Fibre Sole plate and synthetic lightweight leather upper has all the hall marks of a future classic: Lightweight, flexible, support and great grip – superb combination.

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YONEX BRUNEI OPEN IKE SHIO CUP

It’s only January 2010 and I’ve broken two indoor stadium attendance records. The first being the ABL Barracudas vs Slingers match on Jan 20th and second being the very recent Yonex Brunei Open on Jan 29th. The motivation was the same, I wanted to capture the moments from these fast action sports and see how much of ambiance and adrenalin I could freeze given the EOS 5DII isn’t exactly bred for this type of assignments. But I enjoy a good challenge like that to find out the limits of my skills and hardware for a given shoot.

Other than my long term love for badminton and Yonex, I don’t follow much of the world tournaments on TV, my only claim to fame was meeting renowned legendary players: Yang Yang, Zhao Jian Hua (China Men’s Singles), Tian Bingyi, Li Yongbo (China Men’s Doubles) Foo Kok Keong, Razif, Jalani Sidek (Malaysia) at the Australian Bicentennial Open in 1988. During my four years stay in Perth, WA where I competed with a HK partner in the University of Western Australian’s badminton tournament.

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Highlights from the 2010 Yonex Brunei Open included a 430 km/hr smash demo by one of the Japanese shuttler and it’s speed was recorded Japanese Embassy First Secretary Mr OKOUCHI Hiroshi whose portrait I photographed for two Japanese business magazines. The top speed attained that evening using the Yonex ArcSaber Z Flash racket was 420 km/hr. My favourite weapon of choice is the Yonex Ti 7. I have tried the ArcSaber 10 which I found very energy sapping after just 10 minutes of use.

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Following that was what I believe is the Yonex Power Cushion shock absorbing demo which reverses the impact energy for smooth transition. Compared with urethane, the Yonex Power Cushion construction provides 3 times more shock absorbing power. Nothing is more evident than dropping an uncooked egg at some 12-13 feet up and then seeing that egg bounced off intact (with Mr Okouchi narrowly missing the egg on rebound). Impressive stuff and I now wonder if I’ve been wearing shoes with genuine Yonex insoles!

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Why did the chicken cross the road? To get away from these guys who kept breaking eggs for fun :)

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There were as many as 100 lucky draws to walk home with Yonex goodies and judging from the ticket numbers announced, attendance may have exceeded 1,500 so each ticket holder has a reasonably good chance to win something. The odds of me walking away with good pictures are way higher than winning a lucky draw :)

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As with any situation where luck prevails, there are winners and there are the not-so-lucky ones. Lucky prizes aside, we were very fortunate to have been given an opportunity to watch the finals and also get to see the pretty Reiko Shiota at just a stone’s throw away (I don’t recommend throwing stones if you want her to visit us again sometime). So yeah, in many ways, we’re all winners that night.

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Former Malaysia national backup player Beryno Wong won the Open Singles category against his opponent in two straight sets. I love watching players who jump smash a lot and understandably so, it’s the most dramatic prelude to a killer smash. When I play I jump smash quite a fair bit and this is about the only high energy cardio exercise I do on weekends (not enough but better than none at all). So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw Beryno play.

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Later came more jumpers from the Japanese team in the friendly match a.k.a. entertainment category between Brunei and Japan. Those who went know exactly what I’m talking about here. But this was clearly another McDonald’s moment for me and I’m Loving It all (and of course some Kodak moments to share here).

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When I wrote earlier that everyone who watched the game was a winner, there was just one exception. One of the Japanese players threw his racket and judging from the second photo below, Mr black “Las Vegas” tee shirt was the proud recipient of an ArcSaber Z Flash worth over B$300. Apparently, I had been wrong about money not falling from the sky—it does, in fact—but not very often :)

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What struck me as something interesting about the Z Flash racket is its colour scheme which resembles the colours of our national flag. His mate in red seems to be a soccer player judging from the logo on his striped jersey but I could be wrong. Sometimes.

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Now, I know some of you were out of the country and missed a chance to meet one of a number of most talked-about attractive female professional sportsperson—here’s Reiko Shiota making her graceful entrance to the delight of cheerful and whistling crowd.

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Some lucky audience received Yonex TOURNAMENT grade shuttlecocks courtesy of Reiko. It was revealed to me by a source at the tournament that a tube of Yonex Tournament shuttlecocks cost B$80. That works out to be B$6.66 each—looks like someone is trying to upgrade the status of this sport to that of golf. The good thing though, unlike golf, you don’t need a car with a large trunk to accommodate your golf investment.

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I JUMP. DO YOU ?

Badminton is the only sports I play well and I try to squeeze in at least a 3-4 games per week (usually in one session) which my partners and I normally manage just once a week. It’s hard enough to coordinate several people’s time on a sacred weekend to meet in court, it’s even harder to congregate outside of court for coffee. And this has been a busy week for me having woken up really early (4.30am) for the BEDB 4th Invitational Golf Tournament shoot at the Empire Hotel followed up a whole day of aerial photography from BSB to KB to BSB and to top things off, my amah (“domestic helper”) leaves for her month long vacation this evening. So I try to make the most of my time as humanly and as practically possible.

So, yesterday (technically, last weekend) it was another routine badminton session with the usual fellas with the addition of Alan whom you may remember from an outing with Gavin etc. Instead of another outing elsewhere, I thought it would be really cool to demonstrate the capability of the 5D Mark II’s AI Servo that I’ve recently come to discover—its ability to continuously track high and low contrast moving objects with such amazing accuracy itself became an object of fascination for me so I’m now on the quest to discover how much more (of challenging lighting conditions) I can push the technology. So here are shots of me captured by Alan on his 5DII, 24-105 f/4 IS between 1/125-1/160s at ISO 5000. I could have chosen ISO 6400 to get a slightly quicker shutter speed or had him use my 24-70 f/2.8 but no. One should practice with the equipment (however limited an inventory) one owns.

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One of the most exciting and dramatic moments to watch in any badminton game is the jump smash and since none of my partners habitually jump it would be extremely unnatural for them to do so for the camera so once again I volunteered myself and set Alan’s 5DII for the shot. What this means for me is having seen the exposure capabilities of this camera even with an f/4 lens and a low light venue, a future assignment such a national tournament would fare better results providing the venue has better lighting. Speaking of which, I am keen to run a couple of Speedlites and put the Pocket Wizards to good use someday.

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Considering the varying low light conditions of the BSRC badminton hall I am extremely pleased with the results and the amount of grain at ISO 5000 (even ISO 6400) is no big deal—easily reduced or even completely removed but at the expense of losing details. I converted these to a toned and tweaked black and white to remove the  unpleasing combination of green walls and brown floors.

So, are you a jumper?