BAC alumni Simon Leung represents Australia in Tokyo Olympics

Our very own Simon Leung is playing Badminton at the upcoming Olympics and we couldn’t be prouder and happier for this vibrant 24-year-old. 

When he realised it was only two more years until his 10-year reunion, Simon was shocked. Since graduating, time has flown by for him—largely because he has spent much of his time flying around the globe.

“Olympics has always been on my mind, even before I left school because I’ve played at Nationals since a Juniors’ level and then at international competitions. I’ve always been pretty hooked into it, although I’ve not always had a set plan. 

“Tokyo Olympics panned out for me in a series of coincidences,” he explains. One of these happy coincidences was unexpectedly finding his Mixed Doubles partner, Gronya Somerville.

“Prior to meeting Gronya, I was playing Mixed Doubles with Tiffany Go from Sydney. While we were playing in a tournament overseas, Tiffany did her ACL. I met Gronya when I was playing in Thailand at the World Men’s and Women’s Championships. She said she’d like to play Mixed Doubles, so we then started playing together. Coaches raised the topic of us going to the Olympics and the dream revived itself again. Looking at the level I was playing, the opportunities I would have available, and the strategies we might employ if we decided to go for it, we decided to move forward.”

In 2018, Simon and Gronya began their qualifying campaign in earnest. (Simon also aimed to qualify for the Olympic Men’s Doubles but was unsuccessful.) This involved competing in 15 to 20 week-long tournaments around the United States, Canada, Europe, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, and Singapore, and achieving a Top 50 world ranking for an Olympic Games Oceania spot.  

Photo: Simon leaps for a shot as Gronya defends

Successfully qualifying and back in Australia for now, Simon plays two court sessions per day (a total of about 20 hours per week), participates in conditioning sessions three to four hours per week, has regular physiotherapy appointments, and makes an effort to eat right (“I’m strict but it’s not like I’m going to be ridiculous about it! At the end of the day, you have to enjoy life.”). He also tries to fit in a spot of socialising if he’s lucky enough for his timetable to coincide with a friend’s. 

Qualifying for the Olympics has taken years of work, commitment, and almost all his resources. “The cost of travel comes out of my pocket. It’s been a tough two and a half years. 

Looking down memory lane, Simon says: “I remember the very beginning of this when I’d go to social comps with my family at the age of seven or eight.”

He was good enough to compete at Nationals by the age of 14, a student at BAC. Looking back on his years of competing and developing, he recognises the benefits of that experience. “It never crosses your mind until you look back on it that it was all about learning. And I met lots of kids through training and tournaments who are still good friends,” he says. 

In 2015, Simon commenced part-time study for a Bachelor of Business in Sports Management, fitting it in around his training and tournament schedule. Up until 2018, when he started training and travelling in earnest, he was also fitting in the odd game of touch rugby with schoolmates. Simon still sees his friend Thompson from BAC from time to time.

[Screenshot from Simon Leung Wikipedia page. See more results: https://www.tournamentsoftware.com/ranking/player.aspx?id=26547&player=391584, accessed 6 July 2021]

With COVID habitually interfering in life's plans it's hard to know exactly what the future will look like. For instance, he has a two-week training camp on the Gold Coast coming up but his Melbourne-based Double’s partner Gronya may not be able to enter Queensland. Knowing Simon’s unbeatable spirit, it will take more than this to hold him back. 

Simon sets foot in Tokyo on 17 July. We wish you all the very best, Simon and Gronya. We will be cheering you on every step of the way!

Photo: Teamwork between Badminton Mixed Doubles players Gronya Somerville and BAC alumni Simon Leung. Simon serves.