Borna Kezele is a 33-year-old (or young) badminton player who competed in the ADA League last season (2023/2024), class C. His success is amazing: 36 medals and 2 trophies! He is also a member of the End7ess SoulSport team (his articles can be read HERE) and the End7ess SoulSport Club on Strava.

This time, we put him on the spot and interviewed him about his training, how he feels when he plays, and general badminton info since it is much more than family entertainment.

End7ess: Your exceptional performance in badminton this season has led to an impressive collection of medals and trophies. Your dedication and skill are truly commendable. Congratulations on your well-deserved success! How many medals, exactly?

Borna: There were 36 medals and 2 trophies. Some organizers put much effort into the medal design, some a little less. The trophies were in the shape of a golden shuttlecock (the “ball” with which badminton is played) as a reward for first place in the current season of the ADA League—an international league mostly played by amateur players from former Yugoslavian countries.

End7ess: Please give us a short insight into the badminton competition system in Croatia. On which level are you playing?

Borna: It is important to note that I play and compete in the amateur world of badminton. With my 33, almost 34 years old, I am too old and not trained enough to compete with someone who, for example, has trained continuously since they were a kid. So, for example, on ADA, there are four groups or strength classes: A, B, C, and D. In late season 2022/2023, I started in C but couldn’t win any medals nor make any serious progress. Actually, I was discouraged by some (there was one player in particular) that I am not for C; I am more of a D category. Then I entered one tournament in D and absolutely melted the competition. Of course, I only entered back into the world of badminton after a really long break, and I was far away from my full potential. Then, I started training four to five times weekly, and my progress was amazing. The “feeling” in my hand was back. That guy from before, who said I am not fit for C – I beat him, and I will do it again.

In professional badminton, the age restrictions are more rigid. Still, for purposes of this interview, we can say that there are juniors (under 19 years old), then you become a senior until you are 35, and after that, you are a veteran.

End7ess: So, are you moving to a higher rank starting next year? What are your plans? Where do you see yourself a year from now? Some reduction in the number of winnings is probably due. Or perhaps not…

Borna: Last weekend, the ADA season 2023/2024 ended, and I won the title of the champion of class C. Don’t get me wrong, my friends from BC Concordia (Zagreb) and Snow Whites (Varaždin) were like school boys and girls, attending every tournament and getting some points there, but the competition was fierce in the end. We have some rivals, and I am always happy about that because they’re the ones who make me want to train harder and more. Don’t underestimate the C players – some really dangerous players are at the top of the C. I am happy to see them next year in B class.

I plan to continue to train hard and make some serious efforts in B class next season. My wish is to become an official badminton trainer at some point. I am actually waiting for the CBA (Croatian Badminton Association) to announce there will be another generation of trainers. Next year, I hope…

End7ess: Congratulations again on your success. The most important question for Soul Athletes is: How do you feel when you play? What does badminton mean to you?

Borna: I will probably sound like every other person who is crazy about something: when I play badminton, I have a feeling of lightness. Those who know me know that even when I am “fit”, I am around 90 kilos. Not your usual slim and nimble badminton player. But when I’m on the badminton court, some magic comes to life – magic that connects my kapha sturdiness and endurance with vatta speed and lightheartedness. This combination is, it seems, incredible when put together with a lot of training.

Also, there is a feeling of never getting really tired when playing badminton. There were seven tournaments in ADA League, and in every tournament, I played badminton from 8 am in the morning until 8 pm in the evening.

All three disciplines (mix, doubles, and single – in that order). Some of the people watching me said this was absolutely insane, and at the end of the tournament, when we played the Discipline of the Kings (single), I always said that I was tired and I didn’t really know why am I doing this to myself. But the truth is known to me. I do it because these moments are moments when I truly live and when that inner fire wants to devour everything. Amazing feeling.

End7ess: How many training sessions do you have per week? Are they hard? Do you feel pressure? Do you employ training techniques, or do you go with the flow?

Borna: Four to five training when I am in the mood and sometimes a tournament on Saturday to spice things up. I mostly play with guys from my club, and I play doubles. I took a couple of structured training sessions with the trainer and selector of the Croatian badminton junior representation. I intend to double up those classes, but I’m also structuring my own training for myself and my friends – beginners and experts alike.

End7ess: Most people look at badminton as family entertainment, not as a serious sport. What should one do if someone wants to try badminton on another level, not necessarily competitively, but as a playful, enjoyable, yet somewhat demanding exercise? Where to go, how to start?

Borna: Even in Croatia, badminton as a sport has a huge base of players and people who are potentially interested in playing. There are a lot of badminton clubs in Zagreb, so I would always advise people to look up some clubs nearby. Almost all of the badminton players, at whichever level they might be today, started playing as kids in the backyard. This is a common story. Sometimes, we still play badminton at parties as we used to as kids. You can always start like this or return to this if you feel comfortable with it. But yes, if you want to up “the family and childhood” game, insanely burn calories, and become a better version of yourselves, I invite you to start playing badminton. You will not regret it! See you on the court!

About the Author: Adrian

Author and writer of more than fifty books, teacher, lecturer, explorer of consciousness, avid windsurfer, and lover of outdoor activities. He’ll write mostly about windsurfing on fin and foil, spot reviews, and camping equipment.
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