The good ones always make it look so easy. Watching Olympic hopeful Crystal Pan with a badminton racket in her hand, it can be easy to forget just how hard a sport it is to play.
And just how much of a commitment is needed to make it to the top.
It’s a journey the 20-year-old Pan, of Fremont, has been on since she was just 7.
“So when I started out, I was the tiniest in my whole group, and I kind of would get beaten up by the other kids,” she said. “I wasn’t very good when I started, but I definitely worked harder because I was so tiny.”
Pan said she realized that hard work was paying off when she won her first junior national championship in 2010 at the age of 12. At that point, the Olympics already were a possibility for her, but they didn’t become a passion until 2016.
“When I saw the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics, I saw the U.S. team marching down,” she recalled. “I just thought that was so majestic.”
And how would Pan feel if she were one of those walking behind the American flag in 2020?
“I think I would cry,” she said. “I think all the hard work that goes into this, like it would be worth it. It’s hard even now because I’m away from my family so much.”
Two years ago, Pan moved to China, where there are more resources for high level badminton training. She’s barely been home since. It’s the kind of commitment necessary to be among they very best.
“Even if I don’t make it, I think I’ll have grown so much that I look back and think it was worth it,” Pan said.
This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Hard-Work-Paying-Off-For-Olympic-Badminton-Hopeful-513118791.html.