Badminton gets better with age

Jim Duberry

Jim Duberry just won gold in the Canadian Master’s Badminton Championships in Ottawa.

Back in 1965, 33-year-old Sgt (Ret’d) Jim Duberry picked up his first badminton racket and birdie while posted in Newfoundland.

It wasn’t long before he was hooked.

Forty-seven years later, and now at age 80, he won gold in the Canadian Masters Badminton Championships in Ottawa May 7-12.  

“I think the secret of the game is to continue to play as long as you can. I love playing because it’s so social and a great way to exercise cardio,” he says.

Competing in the 75-79 age category, Duberry was a tough match for his opponents just days before his 80th birthday.

First up he contended with Canada’s first astronaut – 77-year-old Maj (Ret’d) Ken Money, and was victorious with a 2-3 game win.

Then he won three games against 77-year-old Japanese Tosh Uyida, advancing to the finals against competitor Jim Carnwath.

“I have lost to Jim for the past 15 years. If someone told me I would win against him I wouldn’t have believed it. Jim is a very skilled player,” he says.

Duberry considers himself a late starter in the game, but practicing almost 365 days this year made up for it, and he won the game against Carnwath.

“Jim has been playing since he was about eight years old. He was surprised when I beat him, and I was surprised to win. He congratulated me.”

Each year Duberry embraces the badminton season, travelling to competitions all over, venturing as far as Brisbane, Australia, with birdies in hand.

“September to April is badminton season and each year I play in the Victoria Masters, Port Alberni Masters, Vancouver Masters and Ogopogo Masters in Kelowna.

He won bronze in the World Senior Games at the Richmond Olympic Centre last September and was the oldest competitor, playing people from around the world. During the 2011 U.S. Masters, he won gold for singles and doubles in his age category.

It seems he’s getting better with age.

“I love the sport,” he says. “When I’m playing I think about staying fit and enjoying the company of the people I play with. I can go from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland and run into people who play the same tournaments annually. It’s like an old home. We meet and greet and enjoy conversation across the world. It’s a very social sport.”

Since 1977 he’s been a daily fixture at the Naden Gym playing badminton over lunch hour.

Like clockwork, he’s there from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Everybody at the gym knows him. “I’ve been coming here before many of these people were born. I’m a face everybody sees here all the time,” he says.

Duberry enjoys playing the military members and usually beats them.

“As you get older your timing and reflexes slow down, but my shots are more accurate than theirs are seeing as I’ve been playing so long. I never met anyone I didn’t like playing and it’s great to work out with them,” he says.

Very few people play the game after 75 to 80.

“I expect to play as long as I can. Injuries are one of the things to think about, but I will play as long as I can. My friend is turning 86 and he is still playing. If I can offer advice to the sailors it is to exercise an hour a day. It will make a difference in their lives.”

Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer

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  1. David Niven says:

    Congratulations to Jim for his Gold and his 80th birthday.

    I am thrilled to see that Jim has prevailed in this great sport – a truly a sport for life.

    There are a few inconsistencies in the story – the Canadian Masters was held at Laval University in Quebec City – May 7-12’12.

    Tosh Uyeda is of Japanese ancestry but is a Canadian citizen residing in Toronto.

    I am not familiar with the way the results were reported for Jim’s match with Ken Money. I believe the writer was indicating that Jim won the match in 3 games with scors of 21-18; 18-21 and 21-11.

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