Kelvin Chong: Junior Nationals Champion

Ashley Song, Design Editor

The bleachers are filled with eager onlookers, enraptured and invested in the battle on the court. Apart from the contact of shoe to floor and birdie to racket, silence pours through the gym. As freshman Kelvin Chong’s wrist snaps, all eyes are on him.

Chong’s love for badminton began when his father introduced the sport to him at the age of seven, immediately feeling a connection to the sport. A year in, he began to practice seriously at the California Badminton Academy (CBA) and eventually moved to Synergy Badminton Club.

“Badminton is my life,” said Chong. “I train four times a week outside of school and train around four hours on those days.”

His commitment to the sport has certainly paid off, considering he is ranked second in the nation in Boys’ Doubles under 17, although Singles is his main event. Despite his high rank, Chong has not let the numbers dictate his love for badminton. Chong plays on the Lynbrook team as well.

“The school team is fun, and I enjoy playing with my friends and during seasons,” said Chong. “I am happy and having fun.”

Chong’s Synergy coaches, Coaches Bob Malaythong and Raju Rai, and Lynbrook coaches, Coaches Karen Christiansen and Gordon Ho, have been cornerstones in Chong’s badminton journey. Not only are Chong’s coaches mentors to him, but they are also a constant source of morale and endless support.

“[My coaches] are very helpful and have guided me throughout my career, helping me achieve goals that I never thought I would get to,” said Chong said.

But his most enthusiastic fans are his parents. They have put in extensive time and effort for Chong, going on hour-long round-trips to take him to practice, and also encouraged his passion for the sport. Aside from his coaches and his parents, his fellow Lynbrook teammates are also very supportive.

“They are my competitors, my teammates, but most importantly my support system,” said Chong. “We learn from each other and get better.”

Chong actively learns from his teammates, and they also learn from him.

“I admire that Kelvin can spend so much time on badminton,” said Shaw. “He has spent over 7 years playing badminton and has gone to Junior Nationals 5 times. Even though he lost the first couple rounds in Junior Nationals for the past 4 years, last year Kelvin won first in Singles and Doubles.”

Most players strive to place in the annual Junior Nationals, the largest badminton tournament of the year, generally held in June or July. Last year, Chong finally reached his goal of placing first in Junior Nationals.

“For the past five years that I attended Junior Nationals, I would lose in the first round and end up watching other people play,” said Chong. “Not last year though — I was playing under 15 and I was seeded number one for Boys’ Singles. People thought I would lose to number two seed, and every time I played him, I lost in two sets. Day by day, I started playing better and better, until the finals came up. Thanks to support from my teammates, I came through and took home my first ever Junior Nationals first place trophy.”