Jamaica's badminton duo planned for CAC gold medal

By August 03, 2018
Winning doubles pair of Samuel Ricketts and Gareth Henry Winning doubles pair of Samuel Ricketts and Gareth Henry

Good mental preparation, perfect timing, and finding it possible to smile while facing the possibility of defeat, were key factors that contributed to Gareth Henry and Samuel Ricketts winning the gold medal in men’s doubles badminton at the CAC Games in Colombia on Thursday.

The two who train separately thousands of miles apart – Henry in Jamaica, Ricketts in the UK – have had a string of successes as a doubles pairing leading up to the Games, but their 21-12, 11-21, 21-19 win over Cuba’s Oselni Gurrero and Leodannis Martinez, will go down as their biggest win to date.

“Sometimes a tournament is about knowing when to peak a little bit and for me and Gary we kind of timed it perfectly for this tournament,” said Ricketts.

“We played an excellent match in the semi-finals. The finals wasn’t our best game but we wanted to get the win so whichever way, grinding it out, it was the best thing.”

Getting to the finals and winning was something they had planned months ago while playing in tournaments in preparation for the CAC Games. A bronze medal in Peru in June and silver at the Jamaica International were stepping stones towards their ultimate goal.

 “We feel very good. We started off like two tournaments ago saying we’re aiming for this tournament to actually win the gold medal,” Henry said following their crowning achievement on Thursday.

“At the time weren’t playing great badminton but just really wanted to come and give Jamaica a gold medal so fulfilling that vision or that dream is really a blessing.”

Ricketts revealed that a lot of mental preparation went into getting ready for their big moment.

“Me and Gary we put in so much mental work, not just physical work, but mental work, a lot of bonding. We literally spoke it into existence,” he said before Henry interjected.

“We meditated a lot and after every match, every tournament, we talk about each win and each loss in great detail so we pinpoint a lot of stuff.”

In the final after winning the first set against the Cubans, the found themselves down 19-10 in the second set. They agreed that the deficit was too huge to overcome so they resolved to let it go and take it to a third set. But it almost worked against them.

“The final was about grit and guts,” Henry said. There was also a seminal moment in the final set when after leading 17-11, the duo found themselves down 18-16.

“I remember specifically, I was returning serve and Samuel just said to me ‘Gareth, just remember to smile. So, I literally just started smiling. It made us realise it’s still a game. We had nothing to lose, just smile and play each point as it comes,” Henry said.

“Both of us just started smiling, from we got to 17, we went all the way up and won 21-19. I can’t believe it all now.”

Ricketts said in those moments they took control of their situation and changed it for the better.

“Had we taken the situation for what it was and hoped for it to get better, we wouldn’t have won but we actually made our situation better and that was the difference.”


Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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