Austin Bauer returns the birdie during the doubles gold medal match at the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Alberta smashes its way to five medals in badminton

Austin Bauer wins two gold and Imran Wadia grabs mixed doubles silver and solo bronze

It’s starting to become a theme at the Games – as the podium is being assembled, the Albertan athletes are lingering close by.

All too often, it has been the host athletes that outnumber those from other provinces as they wait to collect medals, as was the case in Badminton on Wednesday.

Alberta collected another haul from the court, winning two gold, two silver and a bronze.

The big winner on the day was 22-year-old Austin Bauer, one of Alberta’s elder statesmen. He won gold in mixed doubles with partner Kyleigh O’Donoghue, over their Alberta teammates Imran Wadia and Takeisha Wang who earned silver.

Bauer said it was fun to compete against his teammates, but once the first birdie hit his racket, he was eager to win gold.

“They’re a very good mixed team and we barely pulled it out. In the third game it was 21-18 – it was a tight match,” he said.

“It’s a little bit different because you room with them and they’re your friends. Once we step out there and play, we’re both super competitive, we all want to win.”

After winning silver at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, Bauer wasn’t satisfied with just one gold in Red Deer. In male doubles play, Bauer and partner Kevin Lee cruised past Ontario’s Stanely Feng and Jonathan Lai in two sets (21-10, 21-9) to earn gold.

“Me and Kevin played great, we train together at the Glencoe in Calgary so we’ve got lots of practice. We always seem to play well together,” Bauer said.

“On the Canadian circuit, we’re not actually doubles partners so it was different playing with him here. We’re both strong doubles players though so it was easy to work with him. I think we played super well. Didn’t give our opponents much, we were really consistent.”

Lee also won silver singles’ play and Wadia won bronze, his second of the Games with bronze over Alberta’s Yunzhi Chen (21-19, 18-21, 21-16).

O’Donoghue, who also played for Alberta in 2015 said competing with the crowd behind them was more fun this time around and helped motivate the group to their medal-winning performances on Wednesday.

“It’s really great being on home court and it’s been an awesome Games so far,” she said.

“We did really well and we did such a good job supporting each other and everybody played really well.”

The badminton team competition starts Thursday and wraps up Saturday.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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Alberta won four medals during a good day on the badminton court at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate staff Desmond Wang chips a volley just over the net in the male doubles bronze medal game against Quebec on Wednesday in badminton at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

Yunzhi Chen returns the birdie in a tight male doubles match during the bronze medal game gainst Québec on Wednesday in badminton at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

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