When we sat down with Peter Gade in Karvina, Czech Republic, during the qualification for the 2017 European Mixed Team Championships (EMTC17), his French team was winning Group 1. Following the 11 questions that was published Friday, we continue with 9 additional questions leading up to the EMTC17 that begins next week, in Lubin.
1.What is the difference between Peter, the player, and Peter, the coach?
Oh, good questions! I try to explain the French players… they were used to look at me as a player and now they looked at me with the same eyes. But sometimes you don’t know what is behind, you only see the glamours and things about being the top player in Europe for so many years… but – how did I get there? What kind of work did I do to get to that point? That is the work you do every single day in the practice area. That’s where you become a champion. And that’s what I try to pass on to the French players. Of course, we have a goal about all this but it’s every day you need to put a pressure on yourself. This is a natural part of my life, but for the French players it’s something you need to learn. I am a coach who is putting in everything I have and I expect the players to do the same.
2. So your philosophy hasn’t changed.
No, it is still the same. You learn as a player and you learn as a coach. There can be many different ways to reach a certain point and you need to understand every single player, you need to have a room for every single player. That’s my philosophy, that’s what I try to bring in with other coaches. With my assistant coach Jesper Hovgaard, we try to create space for each player to be individual. At the same time, the players need to understand that they are a part of the team, of the group, part of the culture. So this combination is something I really value a lot and I think this can contribute to players’ development, to their development as human beings… and probably if you ask them they will say I am very tough. I remember the first thing I told them when I met them: “Maybe you look at me as a player, Peter Gade, right now and you see some good things, but I promise you you gonna hate me in 3 or 4 months.” And I am pretty sure I was right! Because I have to push them, put demands on them and say ”If you wanna go high, you have to do this, you have to change this“. I will never sit back and say that I am happy. Of course I will be, but I will always say ”We can improve this“.
3. What do you consider the biggest success for French badminton since you’ve been coaching there?
Results matter, but there is a lot of things that influence good result and bad result. For me it is the development I see every day. If I see players moving in the right direction, pushing limits, then I feel good. Then we need the result for everybody as a proof that we are going the right direction. Of course, what we did in Kazan was a very big result and I didn’t expect that so early. Playing the final against the Danes was very special for me.
It’s like a house. You need to build up the basics and the basics - it’s a lot more complicated than many people think. They would say “Ah, basics are simple – footwork, technique, commitment, the physical part“, but for me it takes years to be good at the basics! Once you are good at basics, you start going for a high. We are still in the process, we need the basics to be in the place, that’s what we work on every single day.
4. You have mentioned the “Great 4“ - You, Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei and Taufik are considered the first really global badminton superstars. Do you see anyone new?
I see Viktor Axelsen as a possible contender for that. Before Momota was out of the game I also saw him as a very potential guy for this position, but I think we need more players in contention for this for the future! Hopefully, there will be more younger players moving forward and taking this position. Jan Jørgensen has also been a very inspiring player for me at the world stage.
5. What is it that made the four of you so special? What is it you´ve had extra compared to the rest?
I think what makes it special is that every one of us was very continuously in semifinals and finals over and over again. Of course, you have the playing style, the personality, these two things also go together and everybody knows what Taufik’s or Lee Chong Wei’s game was, but crucial is that we were in the semifinals or finals every time. So people all over the world got to know about us, not only once in a year, but many times. And I think people really liked these battles no matter where we played. Me against Taufik, Lin Dan against Taufik, … the spectators looked forward to these matches.
6. But what was the essence?
I think it’s the combination of the things I mentioned – personality, ability to handle being a star in your sport, ability to handle the pressure every single time, every tournament. No matter who you play, you have to win. Every time you go on court, you have to win and it’s a disappointment if you don´t. I think today you see that the best players are losing more matches, so it’s not the same players winning again and again anymore. They can beat each other, it’s more up and down. And there is the playing style. For me watching Lin Dan, LCW, or Taufik - I love it. It is amazing! To see them in action makes me love the game of badminton. By the way the same with Lee Hyun Il who is still competing, I love his game as well. So I think it is the combination. I guess you need some years on the badminton circuit to show everyone how you play and how your personality is…
7. Have you observed some new trends in badminton since you stopped playing?
I think it’s more open almost in every category.Countries are starting to have more options and more opportunities for winning.
8. Is it because now they work better than before?
I don’t know, maybe we will see the Chinese bounce back and if everything is more open, it will be better for the game, we will see. We don’t see these players who are stable in any category. It’s good in some parts, but in other parts we need to see the stars moving forward and showing: ”We are the ones controlling this now“. I think there are so many tournaments. Maybe it’s a different attitude now – ”If I don’t win this week, it doesn’t matter, I will have another chance next week“.
And then you have the whole philosophy about the associations controlling badminton. We are still an old-fashioned sport in many ways. It’s a sport controlled by the associations, not being handled like PGA or ATP, so it’s still a process for badminton to find it’s place and to find where we are in it. Are we making a move towards others or are we staying at where badminton has always been? It’s difficult to say.
9. A personal question for the conclusion; You turned 40 this December - What badminton goals are ahead of you?
Well, 40 it’s … making the choice of becoming the national coach in France was equally a life choice and a sporting choice. Maybe more a life choice than a sporting choice. Because I wanted to challenge myself with another culture, new language. It’s different. I mean it will take some time. It would be much more simple in many ways to become a coach in Denmark, but I am very happy for this, because I learned so much during this journey that I am on in France. Hopefully we will find a way together, but I learn so much every day that I don’t regret accepting this job, this challenge. I feel that we are still at the beginning, so I look forward to learn more in the next period and then we will see what things come along in France and we will see if we can create the culture we want to. These are the goals for me. To bring in the philosophy I believe in, which is not only about results. Results are a big part of it, but it’s also about the culture and the life style.
France is facing Denmark and Bulgaria in Group 1. All the matches will be streamed on LAOLA1
from Febraury 15-19.
Learn more about the 2017 European Mixed Team Championships in Lubin on the events' page
And read the first 11 questions to Peter in the previous article here