Jacob Maliekal is representing South Africa in Olympic Badminton at Rio 2016.
He’s beaten several seeded players in the world game and from his base in China, we bring you a day in the life of this fascinating Olympian. He is the 2011 and 2015 All Africa Games Men's singles gold medallist and Jacob Maliekal has come quite a way to get to his training centre on the border of Hong Kong.
Born in Mthatha, he was a fine cricketer at Selborne College but when he was called up to the national badminton team, this became his focus. In badminton, points are scored by striking the shuttlecock and landing it within the opposing player's half of the court. You may only strike the shuttlecock once before it passes over the net and play ends once it hits the floor.
Badminton is very popular in Asia and with a lot of sponsorship, it’s a fully professional sport. Jacob’s first Olympic opponent is a prominent Korean player and one who used to be coached by Jacob’s coach. He’s anticipating a very tough game. To make his mark, Jacob had to prove himself abroad. Initially, his parents had to assist him and for the first five years most of his expenses were covered by his dad.
Now that he ranks well within the world’s top one hundred, he plays for the Kawasaki club in China, where most of his expenses are met. In international competition, Jacob is consistently beating seeded players now so anything is possible in Brazil. His mid-term goal is to be in the medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. When he isn’t training or competing, Jacob loves listening to music, dancing and when he wants to feel at home he puts on music by South African house musicians.