Commonwealth Games: A look inside badminton men's singles finalist Derek Wong's training bag

If your father was Singapore's last SEA Games badminton men's champion and your mum also played badminton for Singapore, it is hard not to take after your parents.

So it is not a great surprise that Derek Wong, 25, is Singapore's top national shuttler.

His parents, Wong Shoon Keat and Irene Lee, went on to run a badminton shop at the old Singapore Badminton Hall in Guillemard Road.

His father first took him to play badminton there when he was seven, he said.

It was to become a daily ritual over the next decade. He recalled: "After school, I would do my homework at the shop. And I would wait till the shop closed to go home with my parents."

At the hall, he always could find people to smack shuttlecocks with him. "The uncles there were very friendly and always willing to play with me," he said.

"If there was no one around, my grandmother would play with me," he added with a smile. His grandmother helped out at the shop, stringing rackets.

His elder brother, Shawn, 28, is a badminton coach, while his younger brother, Jason, 17, is in the national badminton doubles team. A third brother, Jamie, 20, is doing his national service.

When Wong sat for his O levels at Montfort Secondary, he did well enough to enrol in one of the top five junior colleges. But he decided to postpone his studies and concentrate on a career as a professional sportsman.

When national service intervened, his playing career took a break. If he could turn back the clock, he said, he would have done exactly the same, thing. "It is the ups and downs that make my life much more interesting and fruitful," he said.

In 2011, two years after returning to professional sport, he stunned the badminton world when he defeated Indonesian star Taufik Hidayat in the second round of the World Championships in London. Taufik had been Olympic champion in 2004 and world champion in 2005.

"It was the start, when I gained confidence that I can beat all these top players in the world," he said.

That year, he also beat Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Minh in the quarter-final of the SEA Games in Jakarta. But in the semi-final, he lost to Indonesia's Simon Santoso, the eventual gold medallist, and had to settle for a bronze. He collected another bronze in the men's team event.

Still, it is not these tournaments he counts as the most memorable but the 2012 Olympics in London, although he was knocked out in the group stage. He won one match but lost the other.

"Everything is super-upsized at the Olympics. The atmosphere is just different," he said. He got to see sporting royalty such as Usain Bolt, the world 100m sprint record holder, and basketball player Kobe Bryant in the athlete's canteen and during the opening ceremony. He even managed to get a photo taken with the latter.

Wong, currently ranked No. 45 in the world, has his sights on the Commonwealth Games in July and Asian Games this September.

But for now, he is looking forward to the OUE Singapore Open 2014, which is scheduled to take place from April 8 to 13. It will feature world-class players such as Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei and China's Li Xuerui.

His target for the Singapore Open is simple: Make it to the main draw. He failed last year, losing to Malaysia's Zulfadli Zulkiffli.

"You definitely want to play well in front of the home crowd, as there are more people cheering for you," he said.

By Trevor Tan

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Klipsch S4i

Athletes need music to calm their nerves and I listen to music to put me into a more relaxed mode before matches. I like the clear sound these earphones produce. Plus, they have flat cables that make them less likely to tangle.

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Samsung Galaxy S3

I received this smartphone during the 2012 London Olympics, as it was issued to every athlete at the games. I like its graphics, as the theme I use will change the colour of the icons every day.

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PowerBank 12,000mAh Battery Pack

I got this as a present at Christmas last year. We had a small gathering and the usual gift exchange. I bought a T-shirt and chocolate as my "secret Santa" presents and received this in return.

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Canon EOS 600D

I won this in a lucky draw during a sports awards event. I use it mainly to record videos of my matches to analyse my game. If I have the time to do some sightseeing during competitions, I will take it along to snap pictures.

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