Umpiring in Japan was another highlight of Marc’s badminton career. The 2006 Thomas-Uber Cup tournament (the men’s and women’s team world championship) was held in Sendai (a lovely city that was near the epicenter of the 2011 earthquake and whose coastal areas were devastated by the tsunami) and in Tokyo, 300 kms south of Sendai. After the first week of preliminary rounds, the players and the officials all zipped down to Tokyo in the blink of an eye on the bullet train for the quarters, semis and finals. Unfortunately, even though these trains have reached speeds in excess of 550 km/h in test runs, they only travelled at about half that speed …
The atmosphere in both stadiums was simply electric, and there were many occasions where Marc, when he was service judging, couldn’t hear the umpire on the other side of the court. A young, talented and friendly Japanese team, bolstered by a very partisan and supportive crowd, went all the way to the quarter finals, playing some very entertaining badminton.
This was the first time the tournament was played using the “new” rally scoring system to 21 (so many people were opposed to this, yet scoring to 15 is now in a very distant past).
Eventually, the Chinese teams were simply too strong for the rest of the field, and won both the Men’s and Women’s trophies.
Marc’s room mate for this tournament was Greg Vellacott from Australia. The two of them had a wonderful time, discovering common interests in music; and Marc also managed to do a little bit of touring: one afternoon in a large park were he asked in a mixture of English / Japanese / Sign Language if he could take portraits of beautiful kids playing, and one evening where he escaped a big social gathering to go downtown with Dille Anderson, a Danish professional sports photographer. Marc and Dille had one of those special evenings when 2 people just “click” and spent hours exchanging ideas about photography and discussing life in general.