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AUT Stumbles at Badminton Nationals

An understrength AUT badminton side has placed 7th at the Wellington National Badminton Championships, held in early September.

It was a big ask for AUT, whose pool positioned them against some of the stronger university sides. AUT suffered heavy losses to Massey, Otago and Victoria University. A tight 2-3 loss against an integrated WELTEC-Whitireia team was also disappointing.

The real highlight of the tournament was against a combined Ara and SIT team, who AUT defeated five games to nil.

A standout performance from AUT’s Alim Duezenli saw him claim Player of the Tournament. Captain Nick Jarrold also played well and lead AUT with confidence.

However, with no returning players from 2018, the badminton side was young and had little exposure to national tertiary tournaments. They were also handicapped - with one athlete out injured and the two top female players competing in Australia at an international event.

AUT Sport’s Megan Aikenhead believes the side still has a lot of potential for growth.

“We saw this is as a good opportunity to give some new players the chance to represent AUT in badminton. They gained some valuable experience up against some of New Zealand’s top-ranked badminton players from the other universities. This is a great platform to further develop the team next year.”

Aikenhead said AUT Sport’s resources are spread quite thinly and mostly channeled into sports which serve a wider pool of students.

As a result, badminton and other smaller sports are often disadvantaged and teams struggle to compete with the bigger universities.

“We are currently very stretched for staffing resources and unfortunately, minority sports like badminton miss out on the full resources they need to give the team the best opportunity for success.”

She said more resources would give a greater focus on the management of these sides and attract students to a wider range of competitive sports.

“It would also enable sporting opportunities that haven’t been run in a couple of years due to reduced staff resources,” she said.

With most of AUT’s badminton side likely set to compete at nationals again in 2020, they will hopefully go into next year’s tournament wiser and better prepared.

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