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Thursday, April 17, 2014         

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Badminton finds a home

By Cindy Luis

POSTED:


The speed of a smashed shuttlecock in badminton exceeds that of any racquet sport projectile.

The record? China's Fu Haifeng's smash was clocked at 206 mph during a 2005 tournament.

If that's too fast, Richard Cheung and Darrell Siu promise to bring the speed down to match anyone's game, from beginner to veteran.

The business partners have opened the Honolulu Badminton Club on Dillingham Boulevard, a regulation three-court facility with professional-grade mats and traditional green walls.

Less than six months old, the club has a membership of around 120 "and every week, we have new people coming in," said Siu, who is originally from Malaysia. "We are not that surprised. It's the second-most-popular sport played internationally and we have a lot of families coming in."

"It is very popular in Asia and growing in Europe," added Cheung, who moved to Oahu from Hong Kong. "It is an Olympic sport (since 1992). It's only in the U.S. that it hasn't been as popular, but that is changing.

"It's very good cross-training, good for other sports that require good hand-eye coordination ... volleyball, baseball, basketball, other racquet sports. It's very good exercise and you can work up a good sweat in a short amount of time."

Kin Sang Wong agrees. The 73-year-old has lost 5 pounds, but it's what he has gained -- or rather, regained -- that has him coming to HBC six times a week.

"It was very popular where I grew up," Wong, a Chinese national, said through an interpreter. "I've been playing since the 1960s. It's fun to play with your friends."

HONOLULU BADMINTON CLUB

» 1336 Dillingham Blvd.
Unit 2
» 354-0146
» Mon-Fri: 6-10 p.m.
» Sat-Sun: 4-10 p.m.
» Annual membership fee: 12-under: free 13-17: $12.50 18-over: $25
» Court rentals, walk-in available
» info@honolulubadminton.com
»
Honolulubadminton.com

It is a sport for all ages and all fitness levels. The club offers classes geared for children as young as 4, for teenagers and adults.

The inaugural Hawaii Senior Open is scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend. Play is in 35-, 45- and 55-plus age groups in men's and women's singles and doubles, and mixed doubles. The Honolulu Open is planned for January.

The club also offers a pro shop with equipment and shoes for sale, and racquet re-stringing.

Annual membership runs from $12.50 (ages 13-17) to $25 (18 and older); children 12 and under are free.

"We think it's very affordable for families," said Cheung, whose 5-year-old daughter, Rachel, is a talented regular. "We're in a safe area with parking and easy to find.

"One member asked about having a birthday party for their child here. It's something we're looking into, as well as maybe fundraisers or benefits for organizations who want to do something different."

The business plan for HBC was a simple concept but not easy to execute. The partners knew what they wanted: an affordable warehouse centrally located in Honolulu with high ceilings and good parking in a secure area.

They finally found the building on Dillingham, which is almost perfect.

"We wish we could have had room for four courts, instead of the three," Siu said.

But the partners are satisfied with the initial success.

"We wanted to have the first private gym in Hawaii that was only for badminton," Cheung said. "We talked to people who said they didn't have a regular place to play at night, since they're busy all day.

"What is nice is this is indoors, you don't have to play under the sun. The sport can be very demanding, but it is also fun and a good family activity. Hopefully, we can build our membership and more people will enjoy the sport."






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