Pandemic Spurs Pak to Pick Up Sixth Language

Being isolated at home has not really been a bad thing for all athletes.

New Zealand’s Anona Pak, for example, can now speak a sixth language as a result.

While stationed in Vienna, Austria for six days waiting for the eventually suspended YONEX German Open 2020 in March, the 26-year-old was inspired to learn German.

“I can already speak and write Chinese, Japanese, Korean and French at an intermediate level, so I thought, why not!” she recently told Badminton Oceania.

“When I arrived back in New Zealand, I started virtual classes on YouTube and downloaded worksheets to learn the language.”

After winning silver at last year’s Sydney International and VICTOR Oceania Team Championships 2020 in Ballarat, Pak was ready to embark on an eight-week tournament stint around Europe as she pursued Olympic qualification with mixed doubles partner Oliver Leydon-Davis.

They departed for Europe in February but their quest was quickly brought to a halt following the escalating COVID-19 pandemic. A month later, both players were back in New Zealand quarantining.

Pak, a medical lab science degree holder, seized the opportunity to learn more about the coronavirus during the lockdown.

“I have experience working in a genetics lab,” she said.

“Therefore, I was interested in the makeup of the virus, so I read plenty of journals and articles. I’m looking forward to the day a cure or vaccine is found.”

Driven by her desire to remain productive, Pak even featured in New Zealand’s Sky Sport Next channel, demonstrating a footwork drills session to encourage others to stay active in lockdown.

Thankfully, Pak had been able to develop her new skills at a good time.

New Zealand has allowed some non-contact sports to resume and a few national players have been back training since last week.

** First published on Badminton Oceania website by Tom Leonard.

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