First, let me just say the SSF was a roaring success. The badminton was superb; a true showcase of terrific skills...of power, speed and (my favourite) finesse. The crowd of 3000 was fantastic because they supported and cheered for both sides.That helped bring out the best from the players.More about that later. Because there's so much to cover, this report will have to be in instalments.This time because I finally wised up to the perks of staying in the official hotel, I had opportunities to meet and find out more about the players world. Thomas Laybourn Over breakfast,I asked him why Danes take so long to 'mature' and what his training schedule's like.He said except for PG and TR who are both paid rather well by their clubs,other Danes have to have a day job.(Lay has his own business so he has flexibility with his badminton.)Because of that, the Danes don't train fulltime like Asian players.He trains 4 hours a day; 2 before 'day job' and 2 after.Unlike Asians who probably put in 8 hours per day all in.Because skills take a threshold period to master, that's why Danes seem to take double the time.Thus what takes at least 3 years for Asian players to show, it will take Danes 6 years,since they train at half the intensity.Thus Danes will 'mature' as champion material after the age of 25. But it also means they can last longer since they punish their body less over time.That's why PG's equivalent age to an Asian player is probably 27 although he's 32. Candra Wijaya In the shuttle,he surprised me by thanking me for supporting him and Tony during their matches.(I was so relentlessly vocal in cheering them after they lost their G1 to HS/MK in a flash.Maybe that's why he could match the cheering voice to the speaking voice but wow, he's got good hearing sense.)He said it helps fire them up when they have support from the crowd even if it's a lone voice.Candra's a very busy man.He has his own business and also he's involved in the Japan league.He said there are hundreds of badminton clubs in Japan and for the league, there's no prize money for the champion but prestige and pride.I asked him about his fitness regime and that's when he sounded sheepish.Well, Candra works out once or twice in the gym for an hour or so,when he has the time.Which means he probably doesn't. LCW Queueing for the fried noodle,I mentioned that he should dump his habit of getting sidetracked by poor line calls.Line judges get so mesmerised by his badminton,they sometimes forget they have a job to do on the court that's why his matches usually have some line call problems, I suggested.He laughed at the rationale which is good because it'll help him remember. He has enough insurance for 2 or 3 poor calls if he stays focused but none if he wastes time and energy on this distraction.I spoke to coach Teh on this for double effect.LCW only needs to correct 1 or 2 of his non-badminton aspects and he will be unbeatable.All these problems are within his control so it's easy to solve.There is another aspect which I will not mention here which LCW rectified and I was amazed how that little change can make such a big difference in his matches against TH and PG.(Please note I'm not trying to claim credit here) Chan Yan Kit I was delighted he defeated WCH and took a game off LCW because this will give him self belief and boost his confidence.It was such a coincidence that both fastdrop and I(seated at opposite ends) cheered for him.We felt he has the shots to play well but lack the belief to do so.The thing about CYK is he does not need to be supported throughout the whole match to work its effect.One little nudge was all he needed to make a positive change to his play.I only cheered for him a couple of times when he was falling apart in G2 against PG and he started galloping.In his match against WCH,feeling good from being able to give PG a challenge,all it took was a bit of crowd encouragement and he went all the way.(WCH was let down by the MAS crowd.Because WCH did not play enough winners to lift the MAS crowd, the 'boleh spirit' in MAS fans just died and they did not know they were supposed to support their player to fire him up.That's why MAS fans can help lose the match for their players.) Defeating WCH emboldened CYK to play so well he took 1 game off the World No 1 in his third match. When I congratulated him for his splendid badminton, he was rather shy about it.SSF could prove to be a turning point for CYK and I expect him to create a few upsets in 2009. Saina Nehwal Saina's so articulate she should be the spokesperson for badminton players.I mentioned that she came across faster and more powerful compared to when I first saw her play.How did she do it? 'Well, first I lost weight by working out in the gym.I do a lot of running because WS is a lot of running.'Losing weight means energy is fully used for badminton and none wasted lugging excess luggage around.(Something for CEH to think about.) No wonder I thought she has also grown taller.Not only that,with each tournament, she surprises with distinct progress.She said her coach would work with her on her weakness revealed in each tournament so that it's fixed before the next one. Saina's gonna be the most dangerous WS because her opponents won't know what else she has packed until they meet her in court.