Olds hosts badminton championships
Over 100 of the best youth badminton players descended on Olds over the weekend for the Yonex Alberta Junior Provincials, hosted at the Ralph Klein Centre.
There were four different age categories at the championships, including U-12, U-14, U-16 and U-19. While there were no competitors from Olds that competed in the event, most were club players from Calgary and Edmonton, with some players also coming from communities such as Stettler, Okotoks and La Crete.
Many of the elite players that were in Olds will go on to compete for Canada at the Pan American Junior Championships being held in Sherwood Park from July 22 to 29, said Jeff Bell, executive director of Badminton Alberta.
“They are provincial level athletes and their goal will be to (go to) nationals. Many of the kids that played in Olds on the weekend will qualify through other means to represent Canada in July,” he said, adding that about 10 to 15 Albertans will qualify for the championships – the first time Canada has hosted them.
Generally, Bell said most of the competitors that were at the junior provincials have been playing badminton for many years, with specialized instruction from one of the private sports clubs in Calgary or Edmonton. Like hockey, many of the athletes at the junior provincials have chosen badminton as their main sport.
“For the ones in the Under 19 (category), some of them have been playing for probably eight to 10 years. It’s like hockey, the sooner you’re introduced and learn the … fundamentals, the better chance you have of excelling,” he said.
Badminton Alberta will also be coming back to Olds from July 15 to 20, using the RKC as a venue for a high-performance camp for the Canadian athletes to tune up prior to the Pan Ams.
“We like Olds, with their new facility … it’s just a great facility for us to come and train and get away from all the distractions of the big city,” he said.
About 300 to 350 athletes from North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean will be attending the Pan Ams.
Junior nationals – an open competition – will be in Moncton, N.B. in May.