Having lived for many years with a broken back, Liane Livingstone tried – and failed – for many years to find the sport suitable for her cardio needs – that is until badminton came calling.
Three years after being involved in a car crash aged just 14, Liane was diagnosed with scoliosis (curvature of the spine), and when she was 29 discovered she had multiple back fractures leading to two rounds of spinal surgery.
While Liane, of Compton Martin in Somerset, will never know the true cause of the breaks, she never let it stop her, engaging in pilates and other gentle activities in order to strengthen her back, now held straight thanks to a titanium rod in her spine.
But, upon realising such activities weren’t meeting her needs, Liane turned to badminton, with a chance meeting at an awards dinner putting her in contact with Chew Valley Badminton Club and their ten-week ladies beginners course.
Spurred on by then-fiancé Ryan, who himself had spent many years playing in Bristol, Liane reluctantly picked up a racket – and she’s never looked back since.
“I needed to find a way to keep myself fit and supple and so in the years following my operations I strengthened my back through pilates, body balance and walking and hiking,” she said.
“I found I wasn’t getting enough cardio exercise so I decided to take up a sport, but it would need to fit in to my busy working week and not involve a gym.
“I have always loved racket sports but have not had anyone to play with since leaving school and clubs in and around Bristol typically didn't offer training, so unless you can invest in one-on-one coaching it's hard to get going.
“We recently moved to the area and so this seemed the perfect opportunity to meet other people from the local community, get fit and pick up a racket again.
“I was quite nervous about whether I'd be fit enough, if my asthma would cope and if my back would be strong enough for the quick movements but Ryan was really encouraging and lent me one of his rackets and off I went.”
As Liane and Ryan’s wedding in July approached, she quickly realised that going on honeymoon would mean she would miss three weeks of her beginner’s course.
By this point, badminton was becoming an important part of Liane’s life, so there was only one solution – playing badminton on her wedding day!
More than 40 people, aged from four to 60, joined in the fun throughout the day, and Liane admits it made her special day that little bit more memorable.
“We decided to buy a portable badminton net and set it up on our wedding day,” she said.
“Luckily the weather was fantastic and we enjoyed a good knock around with over 40 of our guests getting involved.
“We were using old rackets and the strings kept breaking but people kept playing anyway, it was fun.
“We're a few months in now and I am loving badminton! When I’m on the court there’s so much to think about that my mind stays entertained.
"It’s great all-round fitness and I get a buzz from being part of a team.”
Chew Valley Badminton Club's ladies beginners sessions continue to run and have introduced over 35 new female players to the club.
Such is the interest, they have entered more league teams than ever before into the local league for the new season.
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