Former Olympic badminton coach instructs locally
By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Andy Chong grew up in Malaysia where houses sat so close to each other that a badminton net could be strung between them. Nets were everywhere. Chong spent his boyhood whacking shuttlecocks with friends in the street. By age 16, he was drafted for the national badminton team, representing his country internationally. He rose to become the 1983 Malaysia Sportsman of the Year in a country where badminton is the national sport. He’s a former U.S. National Olympic Team coach, and now he shares his lifetime experience instructing all ages through his job at Westborough-based Boston Badminton, LLC on Flanders Road.
As a player, Chong medaled in numerous Asian championships, including being the 1986 top player at the Asia Badminton Championships. He was ranked 22nd in the world from 1986 to 1988, and first in the United States from 1991 to 1993 for singles.
Chong credits his father with helping him learn much about the game. His father was a badminton player too, and would take him to the club with him so he could observe matches and study what good players did. His dad talked with him about badminton and taught him idiosyncrasies of the sport.
Prior to moving to the United States to be near his family who had already immigrated, Chong was head coach and director of Junior Development at the Talbodalen Badminton Klub in Stockholm. Once in the U.S., he was head coach for Team USA in numerous events, including the Badminton World Federation’s World Championships in London in 2011.
Although Chong has plenty of knowledge about coaching world-class players, he said his preference is not to deal with Olympic politics. He prefers coaching youth, as well as helping people of all ages to grow in the sport.
After his stint in Olympic coaching, he returned to the business sector, working at Bose Corporation. With his wife’s support, he said, he made a decision to leave his position there to return to what he loves most. He is thrilled to be introducing badminton to young kids.
“I love to teach them how to train,” he said, adding that he incorporates the aspects of training for fun, training to play, training to compete and training to win.
“I always like to pass on my experience of what I’ve learned to the kids. My coaching is a little bit different. I coach you to teach you how to think. I give you the recipe; you cook.”
Chong appreciates his wife’s backing to do what he enjoys.
“She knows it’s in my blood,” he said.
Having coached in many places, Chong said he is happy coaching in Westborough.
“People here are nice,” he said, “They are very friendly. They are open-minded.”
With all the local hype over the recent summer Olympics, the former Olympic coach was asked his opinion on the Olympic Games.
“I’d coach my players to go in and compete and go in and play. Play the badminton. Play the sport. It doesn’t matter who your opponent is. Do your best to the end. Play hard. Play smart. The result will come,” Chong said.
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