Glasgow: Lee Yon has more than his rivals to overcome when the men’s badminton tournament starts at the Commonwealth Games.
After five days at sea, and another in the air, the 22-year-old athlete from the tropical South Atlantic island of Saint Helena, has to shake off his ‘jelly’ legs too.
“It has been non-stop travelling,” he explained on Tuesday, a week before his event begins. “I am still trying to get my legs back because I haven’t played badminton since I left the island two weeks ago.
“When you’re on the ship, you have your sea legs — and then, on land, you are wobbling all over the place.
“We tried doing short shuttle runs just to get into moving around the court, but even that was hard as the ship was constantly rocking.”
Yon, who is competing in the singles and men’s doubles, travelled by ship for five days from his home to Cape Town, in South Africa, before flying to Glasgow via Amsterdam.
His island, he said, does not have an airport.
Yon was accompanied by team manager Nick Stevens and just 72 other passengers on RMS St Helena, one of only two surviving Royal Mail ships in the world.
Stevens did his best to keep his player fit.
“I got him to do some shadow play so he was doing his strokes, without the racquet and the shuttle, on the top deck, similar to shadow boxing,” he said.
“But the area to practise in was not even the size of a badminton court…”
Having survived all that, Yon can console himself he will not have to do it again.
Instead of returning home after the Games, he is due to study electronic engineering at the University of Hertfordshire in England.
(Editing by Tim Collings)