Dear Badminton Fans!
Depending on how much you¡¯ve been following the Canada Winter Games this week, you might have heard the great news! Team Ontario won the team event of the badminton competition yesterday, beating Alberta in the final! It was an amazing finish to an intense week of badminton, and a testament to the hard work of coaches from around the province of Ontario to have helped these athletes reach such a high level of play
The team event started on Thursday, with two matches in a round-robin group. We first beat Manitoba 5-0 in our morning match, and then in the evening we played Alberta. We only dropped one match there, winning the tie 4-1. Despite the fairly "comfortable" win, there were some challenging matches.
The two wins put us into the top spot of an elimination tournament. All the teams that moved forward would play the quarters, then semis and then finals, assuming they kept winning. The losing teams would play for ranking position, so if a team lost in the semis, they would play for 3rd place. If they lost in the quarters, they would then have to fight for 5-8 spots.
Our quarter-final was against Saskatchewan on Friday morning. We swept them 5-0 with ease. That evening, in the semi-final, we were up against BC. We expected a good fight, but it was not to be. Their coaches put forward a quite weak team, in order to rest their top athletes for their battle for bronze. I guess we should take it as a compliment. The team Ontario athletes stayed professional and still managed to play with good intensity despite not being challenged as much as they were expecting. We won 5-0.
On Saturday, we were finally into the last stage of the event, playing for gold! It had been a long week for these athletes. Most had moved quite far in the individual tournament and had played many hard matches. With hardly a rest, or a moment to celebrate their success, they had to refocus and keep their intensity high. I was thoroughly impressed at how they managed to bring their games up a notch in the final tie.
Everything came together for us in the finals. The athletes had great chemistry, great team spirit, and great fight! They all played well. Two of the five matches were very close, the tightest being the women's doubles, where Qufei Chen and Vivian Kwok (ON) played against Kyleigh and Erin O'Donoghue. Qufei and Vivian lost to them in the preliminaries, so they were extra motivated to have a better result this time around. That also took all the wind out of Alberta's sails, as it was the match that Alberta really needed to win in order to give them a chance of beating us.
In the end, it was a clean sweep for Team Ontario, winning the tie 5-0. I think the athletes are very satisfied with their success. I am proud that they all worked together and as a team. It's not always an easy feat as they compete in an individual sport where the training/tournament dynamic is often much more self-focused rather than team focused. They definitely found that right team focus in the end, and it was beautiful to witness.
It's our last day here in Prince George as a team. We are hoping to get our butts to watch the gold medal hockey game where hopefully Ontario will win! After that is the closing ceremony. I think many will be sad to leave. It's been such a great experience here, really reminding me of my past multi-sport games experiences. There was a buzz in the air with the thousands of athletes who were full of energy and ready to push their bodies to the limits. I'm not sure if today's energy is even greater or not with athletes now looking to party it up; it's definitely less focused energy¡
It was also amazing to see a community come together to deliver such a World-class event. Countless volunteers and staff from the area were all smiles for two weeks, despite working long hours as bus drivers, security guards, and hosts. We are thankful to the city of Prince George for putting on such a wonderful event!
Dear Badminton Fans,
The individual tournament is now finished here in Prince George. Team Ontario swept four of the five events! Three of those four finals (men's singles, women's singles and mixed doubles) actually had Ontario competing against Ontario. We are so happy with the final outcome.
Many of our athletes on the road to the finals had difficult matches, ones where they narrowly won. In the one of the men's doubles semi-finals, Nyl Yakura and Joshua Yu squeaked past Ty Lyndeman and Austin Bauer of Alberta, 21-18,17-21, and 23-21. In a mixed doubles semi-final, Joshua Yu and Vivian Kwok beat Quebec's best pair of Felix Deblois-Beaucage and Anne-Julie Beaulieu, 23-21, 21-19. In one of the women's singles semis, Brittney Tam beat Qingzi Ouyang of BC, 22-20, 21-17. It was all very thrilling. I feel like I've used up my quota of adrenaline for the next month!
Today we were lucky to have TSN broadcasting the event live. All of the finals were very lively, despite mainly having players from one province playing against another. There were the above-mentioned Ontario vs Ontario finals, but also the women's doubles was Quebec vs Quebec.
The last match of the day was the men's doubles. Nyl Yakura and Joshua Yu faced Andy Ko and Nathan Osbourne of Alberta. Nyl and Joshua started off very strong, getting a big lead early on, and then reality kicked in. Just thirty minutes prior, Nyl beat Joshua in the mixed doubles final in three long games. Both players were now rapidly fatiguing. Some tired errors started to creep in. The Alberta boys could sense this and renewed their efforts. That being said, Joshua and Nyl fought really hard for a few points and managed to take the first game 21-18. In the second game, the Alberta boys took a small early lead, 5-3. Joshua and Nyl looked to be faltering, yet somehow managed to win some quick points and actually fight back for the lead! After a minute or two it was 11-6 for the Ontario boys. There would be more drama, as the Albertans changed one or two tactics, moving Ontario around the court much more than before. They fought back to 12-all! After that, both teams were fighting back and forth. The rallies were very tactical during this period with both teams struggling not to lift the shuttle. This created some very nervous looking rallies with the players trying to attack from these low positions, but not quite being able to. It was almost as if the team that would try to attack too soon was getting into trouble. Back and forth they went this way. At one moment the Albertans edged away, with a lead of 17-15, but the Ontarians fought back to 17-all and then they were in the lead 19-18. Then it was 19-all, and "crunch time". Somehow Nyl and Joshua managed to take the next point, and won the last point with one try, winning 21-19! What an ending to the day!
After a wonderful medal presentation, we headed back to the village to enjoy our success (eating a feast in the cafeteria!). There was not too much rest for us, as we start the team competition tomorrow morning at 9am. We are up against Manitoba. In the evening we will face Alberta; I'm pretty sure they will be gunning for us after their narrow losses earlier on. We will have to be ready!?
My bed awaits¡ I will send another update soon enough!
Hi Badminton Fans!
We're starting our third day here in Prince George, BC, at the Canada Winter Games. It¡¯s been an amazing experience so far!
For a few moments early on, it felt like Ontario didn¡¯t want us to leave, but in the end we made it, arriving at 2am on Sunday morning. With the big dump of snow on Saturday causing delays in getting to the private airport in Toronto, to being holed up in a tiny waiting area which could seat only about 20 of the 150 athletes, coaches and managers while we waited for the incoming chartered flight that was one hour late, then two, then three, then four¡It was a true test for the athletes. Finally, we were in the air five and a half hours later than our planned departure time! From my experience, these things can happen, especially at big events; there are so many pieces that have to fit together and it¡¯s so hard to keep the show moving smoothly. The athletes handled themselves amazingly, and used the free time to practice their cheers and build up some team spirit.
After a good sleep-in on Sunday, the athletes trained, and then explored the little athlete¡¯s village in downtown PG. At night was our Team Ontario pep rally, where the mission staff really got the team riled up and ready for action with some pictures and videos of successes from the week 1 sports (we are a week 2 sport) as well as some more cheer practice!
Yesterday (Monday) was the first day of the individual competition, and most of the team moved on to the quarter-finals. I won¡¯t talk too much about the individual matches, except to say that I am so thrilled to be able to coach this fine group of athletes. Our team is made up of Ontario¡¯s very best players; 5 men and 5 women, most of whom are from the Toronto area (3 come from Ottawa). They are really the superstars of this event. That being said, there are some other great players from some of the other provinces and we must remain professional and ready to work hard in order to move on. I am pumped about the upcoming matches today!!!
You can find the results for the individual competition:here
The team competition starts on Thursday. Here is the link for that: http://badmintoncanada.tournamentsoftware.com/sport/matches.aspx?id=31987A31-BD2D-4FEB-AC44-72F95E99EA49
Very good news! TSN will be broadcasting the finals of the individual event on national TV. Tomorrow, Wednesday the 25th, you can watch the badminton action from 9am-12pm Pacific Standard time (12pm-3pm Eastern). THIS IS AWESOME!!!!
There is also some live web-streaming content. Find it here: http://sportscanada.tv/canadagames/index.php/week2/badminton
Signing off for now.
Head Coach Team Ontario
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