OC brothers hope to win USA’s first badminton Olympics medal. Grandfather was their coach all along

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Phillip Chew (front left) and Ryan Chew (front right) with their family members after winning the 2021 Pan Am Championships. Photo courtesy of Phillip Chew.

Brothers Phillip and Ryan Chew are doubles partners in badminton, and together, they’ll be representing the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympic Games that are set to begin Friday.

While Phillip has competed in the Olympics in 2016, this will be Ryan’s first time. 

“It's been nice for me, especially getting to play with my brother for my first Olympics,” Ryan says. “When we started out as kids, we actually played together then, and it has kind of come full circle for us to play again together, but now at the elite stage and at the highest level event in the world.”

Badminton first appeared in the Olympics in 1992, making this the eighth games in history to include the sport. There are only a handful of events in which the U.S. has never won a medal, and badminton is one of them.

“We are definitely underdogs compared to Asia and many strong pairs in Europe coming out. But our goal is, of course, to medal. … And if not, hopefully in future Olympics to come, we can bring the sport to become a medal-winning sport as well,” Ryan says.

They’ve traveled all over the world competing in tournaments, joined by their grandfather Don Chew. Don grew up playing badminton in Thailand before emigrating to America, and introduced his grandsons to badminton when they were very young. He has helped coach them ever since.

The brothers grew up in the city of Orange, which is where their grandfather founded the Orange County Badminton Club in 1996. The brothers help run the club, and since 2000, it has produced athletes that have qualified for the games in every Olympic cycle.

As of last week, officials decided to prohibit spectators from the Games in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. This means their grandfather-turned-coach will not be able to join them at the Olympics. However, they know he’ll still be cheering them on - just from 5,500 miles away.

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