You're looking at the most expensive pair of shoes in our household. And it belongs to the youngest member of our family.
It's not that we believe in spoiling our kids. What really happened was, two days before Chinese New Year, Andre's badminton shoes tore. It couldn't have happened at a more inopportune time. He had intensive training lined up and it was right smack in the middle of the zonal inter-school badminton tournament. With shops closing for the CNY holidays, it was a race against time.
So began a desperate hunt for a pair of replacement shoes and it was a frustrating one. Andre's feet are at an awkward size now, too large for junior sizes and too small for adult sizes. We also realised that compared to say, tennis shoes or running shoes where a myriad of brands and choices await, badminton shoes are annoyingly limited.
After several calls, we finally found a shop which had something to offer - this eye-catching crimson pair at a whopping $140 (discounted from $189!) Even then, the shopkeeper didn't have them on stock and had to collect them from the Yonex store. Apparently, this is the model Taufik Hidayat wears.
In case you're not aware, Taufik (right pic) is an Indonesia badminton player and former Olympic champion. As at Feb 2011, he's ranked the World no. 2, just behind Malaysian Lee Chong Wei. In fact, Yonex also carries the pair that Lee wears but it costs an additional $5 and I was adamant about not parting with any more cash.
"At $140, you better start playing like Taufik or I'm returning them!" threatened this very demanding mother. Andre was undaunted. He loved his red shoes and proclaimed that they helped him jump higher, run faster, even feel taller.
Astonishingly, at the very next badminton match, Andre played like a demon, impressing even the coach. He still lost the match (he met some extremely formidable opponents this year) but it's nice to see that he can hold his own against some of the stronger players in his cohort.
So was it the shoes? I'm sure it's more psychological than miracle but at least he's earned the right to wear them for now.