With a total of 25 World Championship titles and 9 Olympic gold medals, Canada is by far the best ice hockey nation in history. In badminton Canada does not have the same historical trophy cabinet yet, but one player in particular is on her way to write her own badminton history.
That is 24-year-old Michelle Li, who is already several times Canadian champion, Pan American champion, and Commonwealth Games champion from 2014.
We had a talk with the always smiling Canadian badminton star who was born in Hong Kong and moved to Canada with her parents when she was 6 years old.
First a classical question; when and why did you start playing badminton?
– I first started playing badminton when I was 7 and it was just for fun with my mom at a nearby church once a week. Then one of her friends introduced me to the club I train at now to start taking lessons. And from there I started learning and then training and playing tournaments.
Michelle lives in Markham in the Greater Toronto Area in Southern Ontario. She plays at Lee’s Badminton Training Centre where she is coached by Jennifer Lee.
How will you describe your badminton youth from first practice to actually realizing you had a talent for this sport?
– I guess I was always a really active child. I loved sports and I loved being active. When I picked up a racquet I instantly knew I wanted to get better because badminton was such a fun sport for me back then and it still is now. There are so many aspects to the sport, making the sport such a challenge and I like challenges.
Which results and titles do you treasure the most?
– I try to treasure every match and every tournament I play in. Win or lose, I believe every match should mean something and should teach me to keep growing as an athlete. But if you were to ask me what the biggest title I’ve gotten so far for my country, it would be the Commonwealth Games title.
What Michelle refers to is the gold medal she won at the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow after beating PV Sindhu, India, in the semifinal and Kirsty Gilmour, Scotland, in the final.
What actually went through your mind when you won the Commonwealth Games in 2014?
– I almost couldn’t believe it. My mentality for the whole tournament was to play confidently and focus on performing my own game. It didn’t matter who I was playing. I just had one goal in each match and it was to focus on bringing my own performance out. So I never thought about winning or losing and when it actually happened I was speechless.
Many badminton fans have probably seen the photos of Michelle falling to the floor in happiness seconds after the last point was played. Falling to the floor like that is something she has done often when she won a match. It’s a very human way of showing joy.
After the Commonwealth Games 2014 the World Championships were to be played in Denmark and here Michelle also performed quite well, making it into the round of 16. After this she stayed in Denmark where she had signed up with one of the teams in the Danish Badminton League.