Norfolk Island badminton player Richard Cribb (right) shares a joke with team-mate Tez Gray and coach Tony Mordaunt after their training session at the Emirates Arena on Wednesday. - GLENN GUAN/ The Star
GLASGOW: That the Norfolk Island are not going to win any medals in badminton is a no brainer, indeed.
But the fact that they are even in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games is already an achievement.
Listening to the jovial Richard Cribb, who works as a plumber back home, speak of how badminton began on this tiny island in the South Pacific Ocean, right between Australia and New Zealand and with a population of only 2,300 people – one will be both astounded and tickled pink!
The bubbly 43-year-old Cribb said that they only “have one hall with one badminton court and there are only six regular players, including his coach Tony Mardaunt”.
“It’s not a very high standard hall and it has low roofs. So, that’s why we had to come to Glasgow early to get used to the heights inside this humongous hall (at the Emirates Arena),” he said.
“We draw the lines on the badminton court by using masking tapes. It can be rather annoying because we have to peel off the masking tapes whenever there are ballroom dancing or other functions.
“We lost about three weeks of training in the last two months because of various other activities.”
But nothing could stop Cribb and his team-mates – Mick Donohoe, Jo Snell, Terry Gray and Jason Quntal – from making the best out of the situation.
“We probably started playing badminton about 15 years ago – on a social basis. We only took it seriously after the last Commonwealth Games (in New Delhi in 2010),” said Cribb.
“One of my team-mates Jo represented the country at the last Games in archery. She saw badminton and fell in love with it.
“She came back and got us together – and here we are!
“In fact, this our first real official tournament. We do not have national championships because there are only so few of us.
“Believe it or not, Snell is the president of the badminton association and I’m the secretary!
“By the way, I’m not the oldest in the team – my doubles partner Mick is in his 50s.”
Asked how they managed to purchase their equipment, Cribb said: “There aren’t any badminton shops here. It took me four months to get my new racquet for the Games - via Australia.
“Whenever someone travels to Australia or New Zealand, we will ask them to buy the shuttlecocks for us.
“And then, we make sure that we use the shuttles until there is not a single feather left on them!” he added, bursting out laughing.
Asked about his chances at the Games, Cribb said: “To win some points, honestly.
“To take a game off someone would be fantastic. We’ve been observing the other teams here and we are terrified.
“I have seen Lin Dan (of China) in action and watched Lee Chong Wei on Youtube. We tried to pick up some tips from them.”
Whatever happens, Cribb and his team-mates are just thrilled to be in Glasgow.
“It is just fantastic to be here. The Games Village is amazing. The cameras placed on the courts are terrifying. The practice court is brilliant. We are just enjoying ourselves here.”