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Gronya Sommerville/Facebook

Gronya Somerville talked about her life, health, and love for China

By: Srishty Sharon
Date: 20 Sep, 2018
Image Courtesy: Gronya Sommerville/Facebook

The Australian Female Badminton player Gronya Somerville is an Aussie by her citizenship, but deep inside, China is close to her heart. The shuttler's father is Chinese, and she is also a descendant of a famous Chinese scholar.


The world No. 36 Somerville is a Doubles specialist and is currently undergoing one-week training in Beijing with her partner Setyana Mapasa. Somerville cannot be more pleased as she received a golden opportunity to train with the Chinese national badminton team. The shuttler not only managed to get trained but she also participated in meetings as well as gala that was hosted by her sponsor company Li-Ning, which deals in the sporting goods.


The shuttler is a born Australian who was raised in Melbourne and lives with her Australian mother. Her father hailed from Guangzhou, China had passed away when she was just 3-years-old.


The yellow-Aussie has China, close to her heart and also discovered several years back that she is the fifth generation descendent of Kang Youwei, a renowned Chinese scholar and is popular on social media having over 100,000 followers on Instagram.


Somerville is achingly beautiful, and her charm and grace have also enlisted her to the list of the most beautiful badminton players in the world. However, many people failed to recognize her in person, which made her lead a normal life. The shuttler has an interest in growing her knowledge and when she is not traveling the world for championships or training. She studies exercise science at Victoria University of Melbourne.


The shuttler has a fixed schedule in which she leaves the house at 6.30 am and eat her porridge while riding in the car, heading to the courts. She does the same while heading to the university after her routine training.


The shuttler has a keen interest in cooking. A vegan who likes to cook and eat nourishing vegetarian food. She takes lessons at university and also studies at home but also takes time to enjoy the home-cooked meal along with her mother. Her boyfriend, Maika Phillips who lives in New Zealand is also a badminton player. Somerville knows how to take out time from her busy life to have a healthy conversation with Phillips on Skype. The couple has been in a long-distance relationship from past seven years.


As quoted on South China Morning Post, Somerville talked about her healthful living. She said, "Both my coach and my doctor were extremely supportive when I decided to become a vegetarian or rather 90 percent vegan," she says. "There are so many myths surrounding veganism. People are especially concerned about protein, but there are plenty of sources of both protein and all the other necessary nutrients available to vegans."


The shuttler was invited by one of the national TV broadcaster CCTV, where she was asked to give a speech on the game of badminton, her career and about her great-great-grandfather. Somerville was accompanied by her Chinese teacher Chloe during the speech.


Somerville told SCMP, "I am extremely proud of my Chinese heritage. I managed to read the first page of the speech in Chinese, and it felt great,"


When she was asked by SCMP, why she choose badminton as her career. She answered, "I've always loved the sport, and as a child, my mum let me try lots of unusual things. But when one of my teachers handed me a pamphlet advertising badminton trials, it was love at first hit,"


"A game like tennis is predominantly a two-dimensional game where, from the forehand and backhand side, you only have a certain number of options. In badminton, you have the same options but with an added third dimension which is the above game. The high and loopy shots add another level of tactics and quick decision making," she continued.


"It was important for me to get a proper education in something that interests me," she says, as quoted in SCMP.


"I normally prepare a salad with beans and dressing in the morning and eat it with some kind of carbohydrates."


"I wouldn't say I've had to sacrifice a lot for my badminton career, especially considering the experiences I've been blessed with," she says. "But yes, I would, of course, love it if my boyfriend and I could live in the same city. But at the moment we both travel too much for it to make sense for one of us to move to the other's country only to find our partner overseas much of the time. For now, we try to see if we can get our schedules to match and make the most of the time we do have together."

Like every athlete who is grinding hard to establish a successful career, Somerville has had a lot of sacrifices. Apart from staying away from birthday celebrations of festivals, she does a lot more. She explained, "Ah yes, I know! My friends from the university will go out and get jobs after graduation. But badminton is my job, and it sometimes concerns me that I won't be able to get work experience within the field of exercise science. But right now, I can't afford to think about it too much."


When asked about her favorite Holiday destination, she answered: "After my boyfriend and I participated at the Oceania Badminton Championships in Tahiti in 2016, we managed to go for four days to the beautiful nearby island of Moorea."


She reads a lot, and when inquired what she has been reading currently, she said, "How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger. It's about foods that can prevent diseases and be recommended to me by a vegan friend."


The shuttler love cooking and eating. About her favorite dish, she answered, "I love vegan dim sum and burritos."


Many players sometimes skip their exercise schedule. The SCMP asked Somerville about her lengthiest gap, and he answered, "Four days in a row."


She also takes time from her busy schedule to stay entertained. What she has been currently watching, when asked, she told, "Riverdale [an American teen drama based on characters from Archie Comics] and Death Note [a Japanese manga series about a mysterious notebook]."

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