Two badminton players have been selected to represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July.
Oliver Leydon-Davis will attend his fourth match and team up with debutant Anona Pak in mixed doubles.
The duo are New Zealand’s number one mixed doubles team, having competed together nationally and internationally for three years.
They secured their place at the Commonwealth Games after a successful return to international competition in 2022, with results including a runner-up finish at the recent Oceania Championships.
“It’s crazy to go to my fourth Games,” said Leydon-Davis, 32.
“It’s a real privilege to go there again and I can’t wait to get to Birmingham and shoot the fern again.”
The Hamilton local says he and Pak weren’t able to compete internationally for much of 2020 and 2021, so instead trained tirelessly in Auckland.
“Anona and I are getting better and better and developing our skills and teamwork. We feel good and are really excited to show what we are capable of in Birmingham.”
For Pak, Birmingham 2022 will be his first Commonwealth Games. The 28-year-old has played badminton since she was a child and says she has always dreamed of going to the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.
“I’m really proud to wear the fern and it’s a privilege to be part of the team and to be able to represent New Zealand alongside all the other sports and athletes,” said Pak.
“When I was a kid, my mother made me try a whole bunch of sports. I did swimming, table tennis, squash, but badminton was the one that stuck with me. You really have to use your brain and there’s so much strategy and skill involved, I really like it.”
Outside of sports Pak speaks five languages and has a degree in medical laboratory science.
The pair are coached by Olympian Rikke Olsen Siegemund who has won four badminton World Cup medals. The trio will travel to Asia for several international tournaments before completing their preparation for the Commonwealth Games in Europe.
The naming brings the total number of athletes currently selected to Team New Zealand for Birmingham 2022 to 65.