Maldives Madness

I competed in Male at the Maldives International challenge in crazy conditions...

7/7/20234 min read

Stop number 2 on the Olympic qualifying tour complete!

This past week I was on the lovely Island of Male in the Maldives to earn more ranking points to keep the Olympic dream alive.

One of the unspoken components of Olympic qualifying is choosing what tournaments to play. There is strategy behind it you may not have thought about.

  1. Do you choose to play higher level tournaments where higher ranked players will be? Or do you choose lower-level tournaments to get a better draw?

  2. Do you choose tournaments that are in strange locations with the hopes that fewer highly ranked players will go to them? Or maybe choose the tournament that is on at the same time as another tournament?

  3. Do you change between low and high-level events to spread the risk or stay at one level to understand it and get more comfortable with it?

  4. Do you try to go to accessible tournaments to reduce costs and expenses? Or do you go to remote places which are more expensive but less competitive?

The Maldives is an interesting location, very remote, popular with tourists, and definitely not cheap to go or easy to get to. However, it does mean there are fewer highly ranked players which gives you a good chance to get a good result.

Before the tournament I was feeling really positive, I had been training well with my brother in Lagos and was determined to get more points on the board for qualification. I was ranked in the tournament so had a decent draw going into the event. However, there were some surprises I did not expect...

I flew from Lagos to Male via...... . The flight was good, the food was nice and I didn't have any visa issues which was great! However, what I didn't expect was the heat and humidity. Now, I live in LAGOS, it is hot, but this was something else! Nearly 40 degrees and 80% humidity, it hit me really hard, I was sweating the minute I stepped off the plane. Luckily I arrived a few days early so when I got ill I had time to rest.

The first thing I like to do at tournaments is meet up with other players I know to either catch up or get some training in to get used to the conditions. I was able to meet up with a few other players and get some light training in on the courts. Immediately I knew it was going to be a very tough tournament. With being ill and the hot conditions I got drained very quickly, when you sweat more it increases the chance of dehydration, cramping, overheating, and difficulty focusing.

As expected there were not many highly ranked players at the tournament, most outside the top 100. However, there were a lot of strong Indian players at the tournament with coaches supporting them. In my first round, I faced Siddhanth Gupta, a good Indian player ranked in the top 200. I wanted to make sure that I was as efficient as possible to reduce the effect the conditions had on my body. I was able to take to the court and dictate the match. I took the first set 21 - 10. I exerted a lot of energy to make sure I took the first set as quickly as possible. This did mean that I was more fatigued in the second set. My opponent was able to adjust to the conditions and my game gave me a few more problems ....... caused a few issues for me. I was able to clinch victory 21 - 19 in the second set. A good test for my first match.

The second match was a little different. I once again met an Indian player, Ravi Ravi ranked outside the top 200. I thought this would be a similar story to the first match, both Indian and ranked similarly. The first set went fairly smoothly, my game plan was working well, my body was holding up under the conditions and I felt quite confident in my play. I managed to get a well-earned 21-15 win in the first set. That is where things changed for the worse.

As I said earlier, the Indian players had good support from their coaches. Something most players at these tournaments can't do due to finances. This was a match that shows just how much of a difference that can make, because after the break Ravi changed up his game and was able to dictate play. His coaches were able to pick apart my game during our first set and give Ravi a new game plan which he executed well. I wasn't quick enough to notice and unfortunately lost the second game 21-12. So it set up a decider, a third set. At this point, I was starting to feel the heat and the early twinges of cramps. We had already been playing for roughly 40 minutes. The legs were definitely feeling heavy. Whether it was the daunting task, the cramps, or my inability to counteract his game plan, Ravi took the final set 21-10. On another day I think it could have been different but in that match, he deserved the win.

The only silver lining? Ravi went on to win the whole tournament. So consecutive defeats to players that went on to perform very well. It's frustrating but it does show that I am playing at a good level. I just need to pull together all my abilities and execute when it matters. Soon I will have the results to show for the work we are putting in.

If you would like to support my quest to make history as the highest-ranked African player ever and qualify for the Olympic games check the link below.

If you would like to follow me on my quest take a look at my social media!

And finally thank you for reading and supporting me.

You will hear from me again soon.