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Sutch finishes 6th nationally in Senior Olympic badminton singles; 8th in doubles with Galbraith


Rodney Sutch went almost two decades without playing the game he loves. But it wasn’t for lack of interest that he stored away his badminton racquet and related gear for an entire generation.

An avid player dating back to college, this Cedar Bluff resident who finished sixth in the nation at the 2007 Senior Olympics Summer National Games in Louisville, Ky., last month “retired” from 1983 through 2001.


“I stopped playing because there was no place to play,” Sutch, 54, said a few days after his top finish in the 50-to-54 age bracket. “It was a big hiatus.

“But then we found a club at U-T, and that’s where we started playing again.”

Since “unretiring,” all Sutch has done is win three Tennessee Senior Olympic state singles titles, and two other doubles state crowns with his partner the past five years, Frank Galbraith of Farragut.

The duo finished eighth nationally in 50-to-54 doubles .

That’s despite Galbraith, at age 66, “playing down two or three age groups” because “you have to play in the age group of the youngest player,” Sutch said.

Galbraith labels Sutch “a great badminton player who can hit it up to 180 miles per hour,” adding that his partner finished sixth nationally in singles despite a handful of nagging injuries.

Sutch returned the compliment, labeling Galbraith “quite an athlete, he’s in amazing shape for his age.” Galbraith is also a two-time Senior state singles champ.

A native of upstate New York, Sutch’s work with an environmental consulting firm led him to West Knox County in 1989.

It would be more than a dozen years after his move to the Volunteer State before the UT Rec Center would save Sutch’s game.

“There it’s 95 percent foreign students, primarily Asian, and faculty,” Sutch said. “Badminton is very popular in Europe and in the Far East.”

Although he also plays racquetball, paddleball and squash at UT, “I like badminton the best,” Sutch said. “Most people don’t know this [game], they don’t understand the sport because they think it’s backyard badminton.”

Compared to other racquet sports, “It’s the most tiring ... and the fastest,” Sutch said.

With the next major goal reaching the 2009 Senior Nationals in California, Sutch’s strategy is simple as he moves to 55-to-59: “Keep playing and try to stay healthy.”

 

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