Vancouver Island brought many great badminton players to the B.C. Winter Games, including Sara Cui and Isabel Wan – both ranked third in the province.
Both girls moved on to the top eight rounds in girls’ singles badminton at Hatzic Secondary by Friday morning.
It’s no surprise both girls are performing so well.
Wan, now 12 years old, started playing when she was just five. She has two older brothers who play as well, and she followed in their footsteps.
Mary-Jo Randall, assistant coach for the Vancouver Island-Central Coast zone, has personally coached Wan for years.
“She just loves to play badminton. She just loves to hit, and loves to hit hard. She’s a very nice girl, very sweet and quiet,” said Randall.
“Her focus is getting her exercise. She doesn’t lose track of wanting to do well.”
Thirteen-year-old Cui, on her part, is a well-rounded natural athlete, said the zone’s head coach Mike Clark.
“With Sara, it just happened that she’s an up and coming young star,” he said.
Cui is also a star on her soccer team, and plays basketball.
It’s about a fair and fun game for Coach Randall.
“They’re excited about the game because I’m excited about coaching. I get them to cheer for the other team, cheer for the other shot. Play fair, be nice.”
It’s not about annihilating anybody, she says. And if that’s the attitude a player shows, Randall quickly leads them in the other direction.
She says Victoria is a great community for badminton. There are badminton parties, and a great attitude among the players.
“Be serious but have some laughs as well. Work hard and be happy, and praise each other as you go,” she said. “I just hope everybody here has a good time.”
The front-runner as of 11 a.m. on Friday was Michelle Yeung from Vancouver-Squamish. With fewer than 16 players in the competition, Yeung, the top-ranked player in the province, bought into the quarter-finals. She won her round handedly with scores of 21-3 and 21-5.
The fourth seeded player in girls’ singles badminton, Hannah Wang, also moved on to the top eight round.