Yi Chang more or less despises having to do rear-court backhand chores and the snappy whip-motions they require but as of this moment, no such considerations impinge her doing as she sprints to retrieve. Meanwhile, a smile crosses her defensively ingenious adversary’s face above all that yellow yonex1. This is perfectly permissible, flashes of positive emotion that are known for not messing with the autonomic functions of the body athletic2.
Back there at the back boundary of the universe of her existence: What to do? Her strength, her strategy and their common position within the numerical advance of the match strongly suggest a high, clearing shot spanning the entire court. Badminton’s equivalent of a trans-continental flight. But then, at the almost blind outskirts of her peripheral vision she sees yellow girl moving slightly backwards, a step or so, to attack the in-bound flight that is likely not to be as high and as long as it would have been, had she not countrepieded her opponent. Totally bargaining on her known, much-discussed weakness of backhand finesse.
The yellow in no way implies cowardice, the both of them are simply committed to doing what must be done in the given space.
„She of the beautiful smash“’s whole body goes sort of „Ha!“ and as she soars lightly upwards through the air from thousands of hours of plyometric3 excercise and begins with the motion of the to-be-expected shot, at the very last moment’s notice her left arm almost already fully extended, Madame Jaune having taken yet another step back, Yi contorts this arm of hers in ways otherwise only seen with circus artists, thereby performing a cross-court drop shot which she fervently hopes will clear the 155cm’s worth of pole&net by, maximally, a hair’s breadth at her adversary’s very left side line for singles. It seems that she wants to empirically ascertain that while the court in its dimensions and the game in its set of rules are limited, the possibilities of play are not: this is what makes the universe infinite.
Numerous thousands in the dark clap both their hands over their mouths’ sonorously opened O or even 0, permitting no further Ooooooohs to escape, while other spectators’ bodies by this point in the rally are also very much autonomous, finding it more appropriate to clutch their hair and temporarily neglect such life-or-death activities as breathing or letting their hearts beat. This be pure spectacle.
The shuttle reverses direction from her intricately red-sprayed strings’ surface and once more begins descending at an angle and velocity actual boeing passengers would not be amused by at all. However, the landing of the boeing is always a good thing, the landing of the shuttle is always death.
Mdm Y’s face mirrors some of the expressions way out in the standing stands’ upended shadows because now, out of nowhere, it is her pieds that are contred and are called upon to perform a surprise, ankle endangering reversal of direction, momentum, velocity in the direction of the static, divisive net4.
And so she does, does totally inverse the vector of her momentum, in the process almost loosing her grip on her raquet’s grip-tape fattened handle. Her eyes are aligned with the altitude-shedding shuttlecock due for pre-touchdown, yonexic interception. Simultaneously Yi Chung, not satisfied with just having performed one of the most phenomenal shots in the long history of the sport, by further contortion manages to pull a full-body U-ey in mid-air and land on her pitiable feet, planted in sprint stance for a glorious return to the net and ultimate killing shot. Of this particular South East Asian tournament.
Junko Koreeda gets lucky because though the birdie comes gliding in aviation disaster steep it still clears the fateful net by considerably more than a hair’s width, giving her enough time to do a deeply-flexed lounge. The motion is performed specifically to stop the shuttle dead at the net. Moreover by the time the feathery projectile has crossed N155 it is moving pretty slow already and it remains to be seen if there will be enough kinetic energy left for a sufficient return trip.
The umpire is observing the border area of the net as in relation to Miss Yellow’s racquet head’s carbon fiber frame, at pains to establish if one is touching the other or if there are yet some few molecules of air separating them. Unable to decide, she considers the surface of the net sui generis and not seeing any wave-like interference patterns comes to the unvocalized conclusion that the play must be fair + continue.
Meanwhile up in the stands5…
Wary of any premature offensive actions after J.K.’s earlier, foot-blistering clear, the Godess of big smashes has aborted her forward march somewhere along the highly orientational service line. Well, not exactly aborted but slowed down enough so she will be prompted by the coming shot rather than her own temporarily discredited anticipation. The way they are positioned right now Yi’s the one firing downhill so there’s no point in adding any extra risk. In this universe of ours there is a thin line between premature and preternatural.
Supersmasheress gets herself ready to defend any of the endangered 5.18m x (1.98m+3.96m+ 0.76m) of her own private territory of Badmintonia from aerial assault from an athlete from another nation. And J.K. too has reached her destination for the next shot, as has the shuttlecock, wavering minutely from its lack of any real velocity to write home about.
Adorable Junko Koreeda, perhaps temporarily startled out of being herself and only herself is suddenly unsure what to make of the surprising, twisting, slow drop as it closes in on the many, many rectangles of synthetic string. A short play is the easy and safe thing to do but Y.C. is already close enough to get to it effortlessly and continue to dominate the play, while a long shot might get her back into the competitive mix of things but carries the danger, if she doesn’t want another zinging smash headed towards her chest, of bringing her the death beyond the lines of pure play: Out! The problem is that all of a sudden she confronts contingency full-frontal, a frightening node in a ramifying network of decisions, screaming down the back of her brain to do the right thing and do it in this blink of the eye: drop or clear, make up your mind! But her mind, as far as it has any autonomy, is waiting for the body to adequately respond and vice versa. In this way the two distinct choices (and there are others more) blur and get entirely mixed up, indeed blended like passengers of the nosediving boeing at altitude zero, so that the motion that results from this is the worst, most unacceptable mixture of the short and the long shot: an intermediately high shot into Yi’s midfield range, an invitation to end it here and now.
1 This is like the totally premier badminton brand and to claim otherwise is delusional at best. Also, I hope not to hereby violate any tiny-c-in-circle laws, though given my absolute obscurity that shouldn’t present any issues.
2 Yes, three bodies: the medical body, the body politic and the body athletic. This last one being among the few things that on regular sports channel TV affords the spectatorial society glimpses of the sublime, beauty on a human scale in a divine arena.
3 Training to produce fast, powerful movements, mostly with the aim of leaping higher or farther.
4 Which divides the known space of being and becoming straight down the middle, dictates angles of attack and now and then gets to double as the reticular hand of fate. Like the best players and the shuttle itself, it has a notorious rep for occasional defiance of the laws of physics.
5 One really anxious emergency guy is worried that some of the spectacle’s elderly passive members might begin fainting and thus experiences terrible tremors of indecision, abulia that is, of whether to simply keep following this cardiacly arresting volley or to fire up the tried&true CPR machine, courtesy of U.R.T.I. AID.