Howard Shu: Pro-Badminton Highlight

Who is Howard Shu?

Name: Howard Shu
Age: 29
Representing: Team USA
BWF Ranking: 106th in Men’s Singles (at the time of rank freezing – March 2020)
Lefty/Righty:  Righty

Early Life

Howard Shu was born to Taiwanese parents in Los Alamitos California.  He grew up in Anaheim and played many sports as a youngster including soccer, baseball, and basketball.  He was a Michael Jordan fan and really likes basketball.  He began playing badminton at age 8.  His father had been a Taiwanese badminton player and first put the racket in Howard’s hand.  Around the age of 9 or 10, Shu began playing badminton more competitively.  

At 10 years old, Shu attended his first junior tournament and lost to a top-ranked junior player.  After this loss, Howard Shu’s mother approached the mother of the competitor that had just defeated her son and asked if the two could participate in doubles together. The competitor’s mother declined, saying, “Your son sucks.”  It was at this moment that Shu solidified his passion to become a badminton great.  He vividly remembers the incident and has told of the karma that followed:   Fourteen years later, Shu won the 2014 Adult National Championship in Boston.  In the audience that day, was the junior competitor who had beat him at his very first tournament all those years ago.  After the match, the junior competitor came to Shu and congratulated him on the win – unaware of their previous connection and the impact it had on Shu’s desire to succeed at the game.  

Shu began playing internationally through high school and college, but as a full-time student, he was unable to devote 100% of the time necessary to train to compete at an Olympic level and therefore sat out of the London games in 2012.  After graduating from UCLA with a major in business economics and a minor in accounting, he decided to devote himself to qualifying for the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.  

Shu moved to Taiwan after graduation and spent two years there, training intensively.  He trained 7 hours a day, every day.  He would be up at 5:30 a.m., run for an hour, and practice three hours of technique.  This was all before breakfast!  He’d follow that up with hours working on core training, shuttlecock drills and defensive drills as well as weight training.  This training paid off.  In 2015, Howard Shu was turning heads and gobbling up qualifying points.  At one point he was ranked 53rd in the world in men’s singles, and number one in America.  He had a serious medal collection going on in an International run that took him all over the world. (See his bragging rights below!)

In the 12 months prior to qualifying for Rio, he traveled to 30 countries collecting qualifying points. Though Shu didn’t medal in Rio, his hard work and determination did not go unrecognized by the American badminton community, which is unfortunately minute when compared to some European, Asian, and South American countries.

He makes it a point when speaking with the media to point out that in America, the sport is viewed as a backyard sport.  But for Howard Shu, badminton is a competitive, high-speed racket sport played indoors, not in the backyard.  Badminton is in need of an American audience to spark sponsorship, drum up talent, and provide much-needed funding.

Current Status

Howard Shu took some time off from intense badminton competition after the 2016 Rio Olympic games.  He is back in the competition spotlight representing Team USA in multiple tournaments in both men’s singles and mixed doubles.  He is ranked 59th in the mixed doubles category on BWF’s frozen rankings right now with doubles partner Paula Lynn Obañana-Cao Hok.   They’ve taken medals in more than a handful of competitions in 2018 and 2019.  It’s been a mixed bag of canceled tournaments and frozen rankings for 2020, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Howard Shu in competition.

He currently serves as a representative on USAB’s Athlete’s Advisory Council (AAC), and is an alternate representative on USOC’s AAC.  The Athlete’s Advisory Council is responsible for broadening communication between the Olympic and Paralympic Committees and active athletes.  

Bragging Rights

260 Career Wins

2015 Wins

Gold Medal – Botswana International – Men’s Singles

Gold Medal – South Africa International – Men’s Singles

Gold Medal – New Caledonia International – Men’s Singles

Gold Medal – Nigeria International – Men’s Singles

Silver Medal – IX Suriname International – Men’s Singles

Silver Medal – Puerto Rico International – Men’s Singles

Silver Medal – XVI Giraldilla International – Men’s Singles

Bronze Medal – Jamaica International – Men’s Singles

Bronze Medal – IV Argentina International – Men’s Singles

Bronze Medal – XVII Pan Am Games – Men’s Singles

2016 Wins

Bronze Medal – Jamaica International – Men’s Singles

Bronze Medal – Giraldilla International – Men’s Singles

2016 Rio Olympic Games Competitor – Men’s Singles

2018 Wins

Bronze – Yonex K&D Graphics International Challenge – Mixed Doubles

2019 Wins

Gold Medal – Uganda International – Mixed Doubles

Gold Medal – Peru International – Mixed Doubles

Gold Medal – Cote D’Ivoire International – Mixed Doubles

Gold Medal – Benin International – Mixed Doubles

Silver Medal – El Salvadore International – Men’s Singles

Silver Medal – Fleet Mauritius International – Mixed Doubles

Bronze Medal – Pan Am Games in Lima – Mixed Doubles

Bronze Medal – Yonex Sunrise Pakistan International – Men’s Singles

Bronze Medal – Carebaco International – Mixed Doubles

Fun Facts

For Howard Shu, badminton isn’t the only thing in life.  He is an avid sneaker collector (possibly hinted at in his Instagram handle @shusonmyfeet).  At one point he had over 100 shoes in his collection.  He loved Jordans (the sneaker) from his youth basketball days. 

In an interview with NBC prior to the 2016 Rio Olympics, Shu said he enjoys action movies, Skittles, dogs, bacon, and the beach.  He also likes Texas Hold ‘Em and craps and takes occasional trips to Las Vegas with his family.  

True or False: Howard Shu once cage dived with sharks.

Check out this great pre-Rio interview.

Sources:

https://www.teamusa.org/usa-badminton/athletes/howard-shu
https://bwfbadminton.com/player/46776/howard-shu
http://archivepyc.nbcolympics.com/news/who-howard-shu

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