Canada takes gold in women’s badminton

Canada’s Michelle Li is like a gazelle on the badminton court, using lightning speed and incredible reflexes to her full advantage.

Canadian doubles pair Michelle Li

Canadian doubles pair Michelle Li

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Canada’s Michelle Li is like a gazelle on the badminton court, using lightning speed and incredible reflexes to her full advantage.

Partner Alexandra Bruce is a little taller and just as intimidating. Together they use a lethal combination of power, quickness and deft touch to outmatch their opponents.

Li and Bruce were in top form Wednesday at the Pan American Games, winning a gold medal by defeating American sisters Iris and Rena Wang 21-15, 21-15 in the women’s doubles final.

“They’re so young,” Canadian coach Ram Nayyar said. “The sky’s the limit.”

Li, who will go for singles gold Thursday, turns 20 next month, while Bruce is just 21. The victory was the biggest of their career and puts them in good shape in the race for qualification points ahead of the Summer Olympics in London.

Li and Bruce used their significant height advantage to keep the pressure on the Americans.

“We just tried to use that, get the angles and just power through it,” Bruce said.

Nayyar said the Canadians tried to keep their opponents on their heels throughout the match and that aggressiveness paid off.

“That’s a team that they needed to beat and they did it with confidence and certainty,” he said. “They started off a little bit slow in both games but then they would just kind of get into their heads and take control and say, ’OK, here we go.”’

Two other Canadian teams received their bronze medals after dropping semifinal matches a day earlier.

Toronto’s Joycelyn Ko and Calgary’s Grace Gao lost to the Wang sisters, while the men’s duo of Adrian Liu of Prince Rupert, B.C., and Derrick Ng of Vancouver lost to Halim Ho and Sattawat Pongnairat, who went on to drop a 21-10, 21-14 decision to Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan in an all-American final.

Ko and Li will meet in an all-Canadian women’s singles final while Gao will team up with Toby Ng of Vancouver against Ho and American Eva Lee in the mixed doubles final.

Li, who’s from Markham, Ont., just north of her Toronto-based partner, floated in the back of the court and stifled the Americans with her range and creativity. Bruce was just as effective and used superb shot selection to fluster their opponents.

The Canadians got off to a slow start in the second set before turning things around.

“We got a little nervous but somehow we managed to get our confidence and come back and win,” Bruce said.

The Canadians were coming off a hard match a day earlier when they pulled out a 21-19 win in the deciding set.

“I feel really great. We had a really tough semi yesterday,” Bruce said. “It was really close, but we got through it and were able to recover quickly.”

Meanwhile, the Canadian women’s quadruple sculls team opened the day with a silver medal, before the men’s coxed eight added a silver of its own.

Melanie Kok of St. Catharines, Ont., Isolda Penney of Kingston, Ont., and Elizabeth McCord and Audra Vair, both of Toronto, finished in six minutes 37.68 seconds for the silver in the quadruple sculls.

Argentina took gold in 6:34.46, while the U.S. was third in 6:39.36.

“Argentina is such a strong team, so we decided to work off of them. We caught up and it was a very strong race and I think we did the best we could today,” said Vair, who also won bronze in the double sculls Tuesday. “It’s so satisfying. It’s so wonderful.

“It’s the first time I’ve been to a Games like this and to (come) away with two medals is a very satisfying and elating experience.”

The Canadian coxed eight crew of Steven van Knotsenburg of Grimsby, Ont., Peter McLelland of Aurora, Ont., Victoria’s Joshua Morris, Ben de Wit of Naskup, B.C., Kai Langerfeld of North Vancouver, B.C., David Wakulich of St. Catharines, Ont., Toronto’s Blake Parsons, Spencer Crowley of Lantzville, B.C., and Mark Laidlaw of Mississauga, Ont., took silver in 5:41.01.

The U.S. (5:39.32) took gold and Argentina (5:41.77) finished third.

“Being second in all the Americas is pretty good.”said Morris.

In field hockey, Canada thumped Barbados 10-0. Brienne Stairs of Kitchener, Ont., had a hat trick while Thea Culley of Rossland, B.C., added two goals of her own.

Canada also had a big day in softball, hammering Argentina 11-0. Melanie Matthews of Surrey, B.C., led the way with a run scored and three RBIs. Canada was set to play host Mexico later Wednesday.

In baseball, Canada hung on to beat Puerto Rico 5-4. Vancouver’s Jimmy Van Ostrand went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI for the Canadians.

Canada led 5-1 before the Puerto Ricans scored once in the eighth and added two more in the ninth.

“We got the win,” Canadian manager Ernie Whitt said. “We got into a little funk at the end but our guys battled and we came out on top.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

A recent investigation by the RCMP Central Alberta District Crime Reduction Unit led to the arrests of 24 people. (Contributed photo)
24 people arrested following RCMP investigation in central Alberta

Twenty-four people are facing a combined 235 charges following an investigation by… Continue reading

Photo from Town of Sylvan Lake Facebook page
Sylvan Lake communities band together on development plan

Sylvan Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan expected to be approved next spring

Tribe restaurant owner Paul Harris, left, consults with manager Brandon Bouchard about how to proceed under pandemic rules that make it hard for eateries to be profitable. (Contributed photo).
New pandemic rules deemed workable for Red Deer retailers

Stricter COVID-19 reduction measures introduced in lead-up to Christmas

Quentin Lee Strawberry
Man accused in 2019 Red Deer murder will stay behind bars

Quentin Strawberry going to trial next year on second-degree murder charge

Hockey Canada suspends world junior selection camp after positive COVID-19 tests

Hockey Canada suspends world junior selection camp after positive COVID-19 tests

Justice Minister David Lametti responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Liberals to present bill on single-game sports betting

Liberals to present bill on single-game sports betting

Bayern, Man City win to advance to Champions League last-16

Bayern, Man City win to advance to Champions League last-16

FILE - In this March 26, 2006 file photo, former soccer player Diego Maradona smokes a cigar as he watches Argentina's first division soccer match between Boca Juniors and River Plate in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Argentine soccer great who was among the best players ever and who led his country to the 1986 World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and obesity, died from a heart attack on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, at his home in Buenos Aires. He was 60. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)
Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona dies at 60

Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona dies at 60

In this July 1, 2020, photo, Salt Lake Tribune data columnist and Utah Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen poses for a photo. Larsen is a sports writer, but with much of that world sidelined during the pandemic he's been digging into coronavirus data and its sobering implications. So when he found himself with a cache of spare change, partially from his childhood piggy bank, he knew plenty of people could use it. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
Tweet on spare change generates big money for virus aid

Tweet on spare change generates big money for virus aid

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 18, 2020 file photo, a view of a 'Matterhorn-Express' gondola lift in front of Matterhorn mountain in the Zermatt ski resort, in Zermatt, Switzerland. Restrictions to slow the curve of coronavirus infections have kept ski lifts closed in Italy, France, Germany and Austria, as well as countries further east. But skiers are already heading to mountains in Switzerland, drawing an envious gaze from ski industry and local officials in mountain regions elsewhere on the continent who lost most of last season due to the virus. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP, File)
As season nears, Europe ponders skiing during pandemic

As season nears, Europe ponders skiing during pandemic

FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2015 file photo, actor John Boyega, right, pose with Star Wars characters during the Japan Premiere of their latest film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in Tokyo. Boyega stars in Steve McQueen’s “Red White and Blue,” the third film in the director’s anthology of West Indian life in London from the ‘60s through the ’80s. The five-film series will debut Dec. 4. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
John Boyega isn’t going to ‘take the money and shush’

John Boyega isn’t going to ‘take the money and shush’

The Hockley Motel in Mono, Ont., is shown in this undated handout photo. An Ontario motel that served as a backdrop for the beloved CBC sitcom "Schitt's Creek" is up for sale. The Hockley Motel in Mono, about an hour's drive northwest of Toronto, was listed for $2 million today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Colliers International
Calling all eccentric millionaires: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel up for sale for $2 million

Calling all eccentric millionaires: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel up for sale for $2 million

Most Read