Badminton Life

Malaythong Lives Out American Dream

American doubles star Bob Malaythong hopes to groom the next generation of players from the United States.

The 27-year-old who played at the recent Beijing Olympics is now coaching almost 100 children at a centre in Marblehead, Boston where he hopes future American stars will emerge.

"I'm trying to teach the next generation to do better than I did," Malaythong was quoted as saying in the Boston Globe.

"Not everyone can make the Olympics. But everyone can enjoy this game that I love and see how great this game is."

Malaythong has an intriguing history. He was born in Laos and, almost 20 years ago, came to America with his sister and mother.

He was the youngest of the family and his sister decided that, given his age, he would better adapt to American society than his elders.

"They thought it would be wiser for me to come to adjust to the lifestyle quicker. I was lucky," he said.

"I never knew cheese existed until I came to the US. I was pretty much lactose-intolerant."

He was supposed to study and pursue a good career but badminton quickly took over his life when he was introduced to the sport by his brother-in-law.

By the age of 11, he won his first tournament and started to train with the US Olympic team when he was 14. During this time, he took odd jobs to help pay his way.

As a teenager, he won a host of national titles and, with Howard Bach, was ranked number one in men's doubles in the US for five straight years.

Fellow American player Raju Rai said Malaythong was his inspiration as he was coming up through the ranks.

"I was awestruck. And so were a lot of others. They could see the potential in him. He was going to be the future of USA Badminton," said Rai.

"I've always looked up to Bob. He's been my big brother. I've just got a lot of respect and admiration for what he's done in his life."

Cecil Bleiker, of USA Badminton, said having players like Malaythong teach kids shows the American public that badminton is more than a recreational sport.

"It helps to grow the sport," said Bleiker. "Most people consider it an outdoor, backyard sport, but having players like Bob really help get it out there, that there's an elite level to the sport."

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