Badminton in Australia has been fortunate to have access to many past international players who have made their way down under to continue their life after badminton. Richard Vaughan is one of these past players and after taking his experience to a sport outside of badminton, he has returned to work with the Badminton Australia’s Performance Pathway team. We took some time to sit down with Richard and ask him a few questions about his career, his thoughts on Australian badminton’s future and why Australia has a lot of potential for success.
BA: “Richard, great to have some time with you to chat badminton in Australia and learn a bit more about you”
RV: “Great, thanks for having me!”
BA: “Maybe we’ll start with you and your involvement with Badminton Australia, so what is your role and engagement with the BA Performance Pathway?”
RV: “Yeah no worries, so my current role with BA is as a High Performance Advisor/Consultant with a focus towards the Olympics. What that means is I’ll be working closely with Ash Naumann, Renuga Veeran, Stuart Brehaut and Jeff Tho to put Australia in the best position for Olympic success in the future”
BA: “How great! That group definitely has plenty of international experience in it with Jeff, Renuga and Stu all representing Australia internationally. Maybe we should share with everyone your experience?”
RV: “So I’m from Wales, you might be able to tell from the accent ha! I’ve represented the UK at two Olympic Games, 2000 in Sydney and 2004 in Athens. I was also on the world circuit for just shy of a decade, my highest rank in MS was 7th in 2002. I’ve also played in 3 Commonwealth Games (98′, 02′ and 06′), winning a Bronze medal in Manchester in 2002.
BA: “Massive achievements and you faced some adversity in the lead in to both of those Olympic campaigns?”
RV: “Yep, so when I was 18 I had an operation for Avascular Necrosis in my hip, a pretty nasty injury, at the time my doctors told me that I wouldn’t be able to play again, well I was stubborn and proved them wrong! Although, I had a reoccurrence of the same issue in the lead in to the 2004 Games and needed a second operation in 2003, ultimately I had to retire but I think I was able to get the best out of myself even when others thought I would come up short”
BA: “Amazing! But after you retired you didn’t leave badminton did you?”
RV: “No I went on to complete an MBA and an MA in Sport before becoming the the CEO of Badminton Ireland, in 2015 I made my way over to Australia as the CEO Squash Australia for 5 years before moving into this role. I’ve also held a number board roles at a number of organisations including current chair of the High Performance Committee at Badminton Europe.”
BA: “Certainly a resume that screams High Performance badminton. Moving into the Performance Pathway for Australian badminton, what are the things that you think are critical for the success of a decentralised program like Australia’s?
RV: “I think the basics of a performance system are really the most important, having great facilities and court access, quality sparring partners and players with the right mindset are things that are fairly important. On top of those having a holistic approach to athlete health, meaning gym/weights training, support personnel like physio’s, massage, experienced physicians, sports psychologists, . A great coach is key, someone who; has an excellent technical ability, great tactical awareness and a learning and development mindset. I think an often missed pillar is supportive and positive parents, young athletes need parents that will provide guidance and a strong pillar when things are going wrong, but equally when its all going right. I will be looking to assist the BA team in bringing all of these support pillars into the Performance Pathway so Australia can take advantage of the talent that is here in Australia”
BA: “And so your of the opinion the talent here is a high calibre?”
RV: “Australia has some great strengths and the number of talented athletes playing badminton around the country is increasing continuously, but its critical that we have a system that can support this talent, and, that clubs and coaches around the country feed these players into the system. Having a world class system is great but we need the athletes to take advantage of it. I think that’s where the camps become a very important part of the system”
BA: ” Currently BA has camps scheduled for both development and senior athletes, what do you think that players will get out of attending these camps if given the opportunity?”
RV: “To be honest, if any players turn these camps down they are giving up the opportunity to gain probably the most valuable experience they will throughout the year. These camps bring together the best athletes and the best coaches across the country to mix, learn and challenge each other in a high performance setting. For athletes it will be an awesome week to test themselves, learn about their bodies and fitness, and to connect with their fellow athletes. For coaches, I mean what better opportunity to learn from the best coaches in the country at the best facilities available? Being given the chance to attend one of these camps should be a no brainer. If an athlete or a coach wants success, this is where they need to be. A goal for badminton in Australia is to have the 12/13 year old kids of today representing their country at a possible home Olympic games in 2032, and, to have them vying for a medal. It might be a lofty goal but it is a goal that the badminton community in Australia deserves and can be attainable”
BA: “How exciting is that as a prospect for any young kids playing badminton! Well Richard thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing you around badminton in Australia more and more!”
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