Badminton photographer Yves Lacroix: ‘I’m the luckiest man in the world’

Yves Lacroix believes he is the luckiest man in the world for doing what he loves. It also allows him to get up close and personal with some of the most recognisable athletes in the world.

An archivist by profession, Lacroix has been a photographer for nearly 30 years. In that time, he has built a relationship with many of the top badminton players in the world.

“Not only do I love my job, I also get to know these athletes from around the world.

“At the Tokyo Olympics, half an hour before Victor Axelsen was to play in the men’s singles final, he came over for a chat,” said the Montreal native.

“I could not believe it … here was someone who was about to play the most important match of his career, taking time off to speak to me.

“He was so calm and relaxed that I knew he was going to win. Sure enough, he did.”

Axelsen is not the only one. Datuk Lee Chong Wei also knows Lacroix, as the latter has witnessed every one of his Malaysia Open victories.

Lacroix even joked that he is Lee’s lucky charm.

“He won it when I was present in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018.

“When I was not here in 2007, he lost in the quarterfinals. I missed the 2017 event, and guess what happened? He lost the final to Lin Dan,” said the 57-year-old, who retired two years ago to concentrate on photography.

“When I returned the next year, Chong Wei won again!

“It was always good following Chong Wei. I love how the crowd reacted each time he played. The atmosphere in the stadium was electrifying.”

Now covering his 16th Malaysia Open at Axiata Arena, Lacroix said he considers Malaysia ‘home’, as it was the first Asian tournament he covered.

“That was in 1999 in Shah Alam. That was when I fell in love with Malaysia,” said Lacroix, who is now vice-president at Badmintonphoto.

Badmintonphoto is the official photo agency of the Badminton World Federation.

“Times have changed. Then, there were eight courts but no photography position. Now, badminton tournaments have become more professional.

“There are more people and devices courtside now – such as shuttlecock feeder and videos if players challenged calls.

“I cannot wait to see other innovations.”

Asked about his best moment in all the years covering badminton, including the last two Olympic Games, Lacroix said it came at the 2014 Malaysia Open.

It was after the men’s doubles final between Malaysia’s Lee Khim Wah-Goh V Shem, who defeated China’s Chai Biao-Hong Wei 21-19, 21-18.

“The stadium was rocking, and I was courtside. I had tears in my eyes thinking I was so lucky to be witnessing a great match, and taking photographs of a sport I love dearly.

“I was just overcome with emotion.

“When I finally retire, I know I will still come to Malaysia at least once a year to watch badminton.

“You have the best fans in the world.”

TASTY BANANA BREAD

If you have a bread machine, here is a recipe you could try.

I made the banana bread a few days ago but pushed the wrong settings, so you have to be careful and read the tips section carefully.

However, do not despair. If your banana bread is undercooked, you could do what I did, which was to slice it thinly and then put it in the air fryer to make ‘biscotti’.

It was delicious, if I do say so myself.

FAREWELL, JEFF BECK

English guitarist Jeff Beck, who rose to prominence as a member of the rock band the Yardbirds, died on Tuesday.

Considered one of the best guitarists ever, here he is with ‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers’.

Until next week, stay safe.

https://youtu.be/xiOPvOBd8IA