Badminton Life

Belarus Put Their Faith in Teenager Konon

Teenager Olga Konon is hoping to put Belarus on the international badminton map when she takes part in the Beijing Olympic Games.

Konon, who first represented her country in badminton as a 12-year-old, has qualified for the Olympics next month and is hoping to make a name for herself against the giants of the game.

Not long ago, she didn't even have a ranking to show as a foundation for an Olympic qualifying campaign. But after some excellent performances at various European events, she has earned place in the Beijing draw.

Konon actually was brought up in a sporting environment, with her parents and their friends all keen athletes who had represented their country at international events in track and field.

That is where she thought her future was, on the track, until she ventured to a nearby indoor gym in her home city of Brest, near the border with Poland.

"The first day I picked up a badminton racket I knew I wanted to be a professional badminton player," she was quoted as saying in Badzine.

"My parents were key in this decision. There was a sporting spirit all around me when I was young and this spirit rubbed off on me. Sport was just in my blood and the sport for me was badminton."

At the age of 12, she represented her country in the Uber Cup, winning doubles matches against Ireland and Norway. Later that year, she and her partner finished runners-up at the Czech International tournament.

In 2004, she claimed the Finish International mixed doubles title with compatriot Andrey Konakh for her first significant title. She was only 14 at the time.

As she grew, she decided to spend more time on singles. However, a knee injury in 2005 left her career in tatters, putting her out of the game for a year.

She came back, against doctors' advice, for the 2007 European Junior Championship, knowing it would be her last chance to win gold at junior level.

Despite lack of preparation she came away with gold in the doubles and, remarkably, a bronze in the singles.

She is now ranked 48th in the world in singles and is Belarus' main hope in the Olympic badminton competition.

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