The wait is over – the Olympics is now.
The whole Olympic qualifying tournament has been a different experience for me compared to Beijing 2008.
This time around I didn’t have as many tournaments; I didn’t play as well; and even almost got banned from the sport. But I managed to scrape through to London.
Over the past couple months I’ve changed my whole training regime and even my whole attitude in order to be as well prepared as possible for these Olympics.
Thanks to my agent Derry McVeigh, I’ve been introduced to some fantastic people who have helped me in my quest to be in the best shape possible for London.
Paul Byrne of BodyByrne Fitness in Clarendon Street has made me suffer like a dog, but he's improved my physical condition to a previously unheralded level.
Like basic training, I’ve been building up my strength, conditioning and fitness levels for the past few months and I can really feel the benefit now.
Keith Barry may be better known as a magician, or illusionist, but he also offered his services and despite my initial fears of the unknown, Keith has really got me mentally prepared and focused like never before to gain a podium spot in London.
Now feeling fit, fresh and concentrated, and with the Olympics less than a couple of weeks away, my routine has changed again in the last fortnight or so to focus more on playing badminton, which is what I will have to do in London after all.
Although I still had one session a day on the court during my physical preparation phase, my technique and game play was a bit rusty when I started back into badminton hard, even if physically I felt better than I ever have on court.
"My first tournament back was in Russia a couple of weeks ago, and I managed to get through to the quarter-finals before coming up against a second seed. The lack of badminton hours in the bank told on me"
My first tournament back was in Russia a couple of weeks ago, and I managed to get through to the quarter-finals before coming up against a second seed. The lack of badminton hours in the bank told on me.
I made a few silly mistakes in that quarter-final, like going on the attack way too early and trying to kill the match as soon as I got a sniff of a chance, rather than playing patiently, sussing my opponent out and building up to the kill.
Bad decisions also saw me put myself under pressure and lose rallies that I should have won, but it’s all part of the learning process and I now have that experience in the bank too.
I arrived back in Denmark late Sunday night on 14 July and got a flight home to Dublin the next morning where I spent four days with Badminton Ireland at their Olympic training camp.
The camp was very good, with three really good international players: Ville Lang from Finland; Petr Koukal from Czech Republic; and Portuguese player Pedro Martins.
Under the supervision of Korean coach Lee Jae Bok, who is a former world champion now based in England, we tried out some different exercises, and it was great to get some quality hours back on the court.
By Wednesday I’d noticed a considerable improvement in my peformance before I left for France the next day and another training camp with the French Badminton Association.
Having beaten French number one Brice Leverdez and the Guatemalan number one Kevin Cordon at the camp, the highlight for me was my match against Spanish number one Pablo Abian.
I’ve played Abian on numerous occasions, but he always got the better of me.
But on Saturday last, in front of around 500 people in a packed French sports hall, I beat him in two sets: 21-18 and 21-17.
Those three guys are all ranked in and around the top 30 in the world and all play in the big SuperSeries Tournaments.
I played very well over there and to have beaten all of them is a great boost to my confidence going into the Olympics.
In each match I found that I played a lot better than I had in Russia, I had learnt from my mistakes, played tactically well, and felt pretty sharp on court.
I’ve had a lot of media things to do in the last couple of months, including a fun couple of days with award-winning sports writer Gerard Cromwell on my inaugural ‘mind programming’ session with Keith Barry for a special pre-Olympic supplement in the Irish Independent.
"It’s been great to be able to spotlight badminton a little bit in the national media and hopefully it might even attract some more top-quality sponsors like Hegarty Financial and Carlton, who have been very good to me this year as have the Institute of Sport in Dublin and Badminton Ireland"
It’s been great to be able to spotlight badminton a little bit in the national media and hopefully it might even attract some more top-quality sponsors like Hegarty Financial and Carlton, who have been very good to me this year as have the Institute of Sport in Dublin and Badminton Ireland.
I’m back to Dublin on Thursday, where hopefully I’ll be able to show a bit of gratitude to Paul, Derry and Keith by taking them out for lunch, before heading off to London on Saturday morning.
We stay in the Olympic Village for one night before meeting up with the rest of Team Ireland in Linsbury for another training camp.
Thanks to everyone who has stopped me on the street, called, texted, or messaged me on facebook with encouragement and good luck wishes for the Olympics.
It’s been a tough few months, but I’ve really enjoyed it and my physical ability, mental strength and overall game has definitely gone up a level.
I’m in action on the opening day of the Games and I can’t wait. I’ve been waiting so long now that I just want to get to London, get settled in, and get out on that court.
Scott Evans will compete for Ireland in badminton at London 2012.