Relieved by badminton during times of trouble – Polina Buhrova. 125 in the world, Polina Buhrova was a spectator at the PETRONAS Malaysia Open 2022, but she was not thinking about Kuala Lumpur. Even though she is only 18, she has to deal with the terrifying fact that there is war at home. Since the middle of June, Buhrova has been training in Kuala Lumpur for the European Junior Championships in August. She has been there because her national coach, who is Malaysian, apprised her to go there. There are obvious worries about sponsorship and what will happen to her after the European Juniors. Her way of dealing with the chaos is to focus on the moment and let it temporarily block out more significant worries.
“I’m trying to do my best and focus on the tournament and on my performance, but it’s hard because all my thoughts are in Ukraine with my parents, with my relatives, with my teammates, so it’s a little difficult, but I try to focus, and I think it will go the right way,” she says.
“I just try to focus on my performance and at the highest level of performance for my country, for my parents, for me, also for my coaches, and at practice, I focus on some individual moments, for example on my movements or my shots, some little parts of badminton.”
Buhrova began her professional life when she was just 13 years old. In the previous year, she was victorious in three competitions, one of which being the Latvia International. In addition, she achieved a second-place finish in the Italian International. She has competed in eight different competitions so far this year. After she competes in the European Juniors, her goal is to establish herself as a regular player on the World Tour.
“My big goal is the European Junior Championships, which is the last junior event for me. So of course, I will prepare for the gold medal. In future I really hope this war will finish and I can go home but we’re not sure. So now I just have my goals like the European Junior Championship, and some tournaments like the Super 100 or 300 or 500, and try to move there and put all my strength, all my focus, all my thoughts on high performances there… I cannot say that I will come home or I will stay in Malaysia because I don’t know. but I hope that something will happen and the situation will be better and I will go home or I will have some solutions. And yes, my goal is going into the big arenas like the Super 1000, Super 750 and of course take medals there.”
So, what does badminton mean to a player whose future is uncertain because of war?
“Badminton is my life, my profession. So I will keep moving on this way, I will try my best. I will do everything which can help me, my country, the Ukrainians; all my wins will be for the Ukrainian people.”
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