Email from Mike Beres

Monday, July 28, 2008 3:28 PM

Hello everyone,

It has been a long time since my last group e-mail. I don't even remember if I have sent one since the last Olympics. For those of you who haven't heard, I will be playing a third and final Olympics in Beijing. I'll be playing mixed doubles with Valerie Loker. I wanted to send a message before I get there to let everyone know what has been happening with me leading up to this Olympics.

Like the last times, the qualifying period was from May 1st until the end of April. This is because it only matters what your world ranking is May 1st and the world ranking has a year long memory for results. The Canadian Olympic Committee didn't have a standard to qualify as they took out the standard for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver and then had to follow suit for the summer ones. For this reason, I only had to make the Badminton World Federations qualifying criteria. For my two events, doubles and mixed, I knew that to qualify I would have to be top in the Pan Am (North and South American) Zone because they only take 16 pairs. As no Pan Am team would be top 16, a spot is reserved for the team with the highest world ranking. My main competition would be Howard Bach and Bob Malaythong in doubles and Howard Bach and Eva Lee in mixed. Howard Bach won the world championships in men's doubles in 2005 so I knew it would be difficult. I ended up coming second to him in both events. In the men's doubles, we beat them 5 out of 5 times, but they were still able to get a better world ranking by May. They had some big wins.

I told you about the zone representation rule, but there was another rule that also worked in my favour. It stated that a country could only have zone held spots twice. For example, China qualifies in the top 16 so no Asian spot needs to be saved. For Pan America, men's, women's and mixed doubles all needed a zone spot to qualify. It turned out that the US was first in all three spots, which made it necessary to choose two. Since the mixed players made up half of each doubles team, they decided to drop the mixed so that all four Americans would go. This was a lucky break for Val and me. The States did try to appeal this decision though and up until last Thursday, there was always a threat hanging over us. They lost the final appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport and now we can breath easier.

It was a long, hard year, with a lot of travelling and much time away from Jo-Anne. We have been married over a year already (May 19)- time flies. I lost my carding (government support) this expensive year and that was a big blow. It is amazing how help seems to find you in life when you really need it. Someone at the RA Centre (where I train) came out of nowhere and has been such a tremendous help that Jo-Anne and I still can't believe it. I also have the Quest for Gold provincial funding that wasn't around four years ago. Black Knight has also been so supportive of me. We just had a fundraiser at the RA Centre where it felt like the whole city showed up to support Andrew Dabeka and me. Finally, there is always the unconditional support of Jo-Anne and my entire family. I feel really lucky.

The last three months have been great for getting in shape. I haven't travelled as much since then and have been able to get on the treadmill regularly. I have lost 27 pounds since April. It's nice to feel fit. Sometimes I even think I am fit until I'm beside a triathlete when I'm running.

As I said, this will be my last Olympics. I retire after Beijing. Without carding, it's really impossible, and I have so many different things to do in my life that I have to get to them now. I had my first job interview last Friday and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I'm excited to think about what my life is going to be like soon. It's strange not to be sure how to succeed. With my badminton, I always knew what to do, I just had to do it. Now, I could try really hard, and not even be doing the right thing. I guess I'll have to find a different kind of coach or find a roadmap to the business world or something. I'll keep at it until I learn how to get it right.

I could say so much more, but don't want to burn you out in the first e-mail. I leave for Beijing on Friday, August 1st.

I hope all is well,


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