Friday, January 30, 2009

Mixing in Some Sports

The new UNIMAS campus has a nice weight room, a bowling alley, and under construction (hmph!) is a sports complex with several basketball and tennis courts, soccer fields, and a track. The basketball courts near my hostel are cracked all over and slippery, and UNIMAS lacks any place to play basketball indoors. So when it rains, which is quite often this part of the year, ballers are out of luck. When the weather's been okay I've been playing, so far, exclusively with Chinese guys because Malays and Indians don't play much basketball. I hope to play for UNIMAS' team in May when they compete in a tournament against other Malaysian state universities.

Badminton is very popular in Malaysia, and it follows that it's the only sport this country is truly competitive in on the world stage. Malaysia's lone medal, a silver, from the 2008 Beijing Olympics was won in mens singles. All three Olympic medals won previously by Malaysian athletes (none gold) have also been in badminton. The sports sections of newspapers here are generally dominated by only two sports: English soccer and badminton.

Despite the sport's popularity, UNIMAS currently has only two badminton courts (for 6,000+ students!). I haven't played there yet, but I'll check it out as soon as the badminton club gets rolling.

My one real badminton experience so far occurred last week when Seon and I played with one of the members of the family I stayed with for Chinese New Year. We put up a fight but were no match for those regulars. Additionally, we have figured out a very fun way to work on our coordination and reflexes by rallying back and forth while seated in our apartment's common area.

I used the bowling alley once, playing 2 games for about $2. They didn't have any size 13 shoes, but the 12s fit fine. The place is very nice and modern, which kind of concerns me given the relatively poor state of the local-students hostels that I've seen. (The dorm for international students isn't as bad). I have to wonder if priorities aren't being misplaced for the sake of impressing visitors to UNIMAS.

Coming up February 7th and 8th is the inter-dormitory track meet. I'll be representing Alamanda College in the 1500m and 5000m events. I've been running about three times a week and I feel I can do alright.