Paula Lynn Obanana Cao Hok – Pro Badminton Highlight

Who is Paula Lynn Obanana Cao Hok?

Name: Paula Lynn Obanana Cao Hok
Age: 35
Representing: Team USA
National Ranking:  #1 Mixed Doubles Pair in the USA (with Howard Shu)
BWF Ranking: #59 in the world (Mixed Doubles)
Lefty/Righty: Righty

Early Life

Paula L. Obanana (Cao Hok) was born in Dumaguete, Philippines.  She began playing badminton at her Silliman University Elementary School in the Phillippines.  A badminton coach offered her a piece of a sandwich if she would try badminton.  She was so hungry that she picked up a racket.  She was almost immediately a stellar player. 

She continued to play badminton in elementary school and at 13 became part of the Phillippine National Team.  She beat a four-time champion in her first competition with the national team.

After graduating from Silliman University High School, she attended college at De LaSalle University on a scholarship.  When she was 20 years old, Paula’s mother Nenita was recruited to be a nurse in Minnesota during a nursing shortage crisis.  The family relocated to the Twin Cities, but Paula had to tell her older sister goodbye, as she was forced to stay behind in the Phillippines. 

Paula wasn’t really playing badminton when the family first came to the US.  She was working at several jobs and keeping busy.  In 2008, Obanana visited San Francisco with a friend and checked out a badminton club there.  It wasn’t long before she was playing again, and coaching as well.  It was through coaching that she was encouraged (by students and others) to pursue badminton at a more elite level here in the United States.  Those supporters gave her the moral boost she needed to begin pursuing her badminton dreams.

In 2010, she teamed up with Olympian Eva Lee to compete for the most elite level of badminton play – the Olympics.  The only problem:  Paula wasn’t yet an official citizen of the United States.  A Minnesota State Representative started leading the charge to fast track the process, and she became an official US citizen in 2011.   Unfortunately, she and Lee just missed qualifying for London in 2012.  The pair immediately set their sights on Rio in 2016.

After 6 years of intense training and mapping out qualifying competitions, Paula Obanana (Cao Hok) and Eva Lee qualified for the Women’s Doubles category in the Rio 2016 Olympics.  They attended the Olympic games with the biggest US Badminton team ever to qualify. Though they didn’t end their time in Rio on the podium, the experience was once in a lifetime.

Current Status

Paula Lynn Obanana Cao Hok is currently married and living in Newport Beach, California.  She has been playing in international qualifying tournaments in the women’s doubles and mixed doubles categories, racking up plenty of points in the mixed doubles category with partner Howard Shu.  Paula and Howard are currently ranked 59th in the World and still climbing.  

Bragging Rights

2016 Olympics in Rio (Mixed Doubles with Eva Lee)

2018 Yonex K&D Graphics International Challenge

Bronze in Women’s Doubles with Eva Lee

Bronze in Mixed Doubles with Howard Shu

2019 Uganda International
Gold in Mixed Doubles with Howard Shu

2019 Fleet Mauritius International

Silver in Mixed Doubles with Howard Shu

2019 Peru International 

Gold in Mixed Doubles with Howard Shu

2019 Benin International 

Gold in Mixed Doubles with Howard Shu

2019 Cote D’ivoire International

Gold in Mixed Doubles with Howard Shu

2019 Pan Am Games Lina

Bronze in Mixed Doubles with Howard Shu

2019 Carebaco International 

Bronze in Mixed Doubles with Howard Shu

Educate Yourself

If you want to learn a bit of footwork from a pro like Paula Lynn Obanana Cao Hok, check her out on Youtube.  If you want even more footwork tips, check out BadmintonJustin’s post on Badminton Footwork.

Sources:
https://www.startribune.com/minnesotan-paula-lynn-obanana-living-dream-in-rio-olympics/389815871/
https://bwfbadminton.com/player/13381/paula-lynn-cao-hok
http://dumaguetemetropost.com/interview-with-a-dumaguetea-olympian-p8024-406.htm

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