Shevon and Hendrawan have a yen for Yuletide

Fun time in Land of the Rising Sun: National shuttler Shevon Lai Jemie (fourth from right) and coach Hendrawan (second from right) and the national badminton team having a good time during a Christmas celebration after their training session in Ehime, Japan, yesterday.

PETALING JAYA: Celebrating Christmas away from the family for the first time isn’t too painful after all for national shuttler Shevon Lai Jemie.

The 26-year-old mixed doubles ace is still enjoying good company and great weather in Ehime, Japan, where the national team are now based in for their one-week training camp since last Sunday in preparation for the new season.

“Right from the day we arrived in Ehime, everything was well planned and we were all well taken care of, ” said Shevon.

“The hospitality is top notch, not to mention the perfect weather. It’s not freezing cold, just cool. And there’s never a dull moment.

“Spending my first Christmas with teammates is kind of unique to me. They are like my family members too, it’s very comforting.

“Having said that, I do miss home and family. I have been travelling quite a bit recently for tournaments, so there wasn’t much time to spend with them.”

The entire team had a mini Christmas eve celebration last night where they headed out for a dinner and exchanged gifts.

It will be a packed schedule on Christmas Day as the team will be playing against the second team of the Japanese national squad, which features the likes of world No. 36 men’s singles Koki Watanabe and Mahiro Kaneko-Yunosuke Kubota, the 2017 world junior champions.

Men’s singles coach Hendrawan is another member of the team who has to spend his Christmas away from home.

“This is the first time I could not be with my family since I joined the Malaysian national team 10 years ago, ” said Hendrawan, the 2001 world men’s singles champion.

“We don’t really celebrate on a grand scale. We normally celebrate at church, and there were some years when we went back to Indonesia to spend time with my parents.

“So, it’s no big deal to miss out on one Christmas. We all have a big agenda ahead, that’s the Olympic Games. The players have to sacrifice, so do the coaches.”

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