For the third year in a row the top badminton players in the world are competing in Calgary.
The Yonex Canada Open has taken over Markin Macphail Centre, the home of Hockey Canada.
In recent years the racquet sport of tennis has become very popular in Canada with Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard both appearing in major championship finals, but now the sport of badminton is booming as well.
Badminton Canada CEO Joe Morissette says the goal is to medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games. Sports fans in Calgary can get a look at Team Canada’s up-and-coming athletes this week at Winsport.
“Badminton is the fastest racquet sport in the world with the shuttle reaching upwards of 400 kilometres an hour,” Morissette said.
“It’s not the backyard sport you played in elementary school or high school in phys ed, these are top Olympic athletes.”
One of those Olympic athletes in Calgary this week is 20-year-old Ygor Coelho from Rio de Janeiro.
Coelho had a very humble upbringing in the favela social projects in Rio dreaming of competing in the Olympics, which he did last summer in his home city. Coelho said it was a dream come true.
“There were a lot of people there, the atmosphere was amazing,” Coelho said.
Coelho is now traveling the world competing in badminton full time. He won the Pan Am Games this year and hopes people in Calgary who come to watch him enjoy his style.
“I’m a rally player, I like to run a lot and I have very good trick shots,” he said.
Rachel Hondrich, 21, of Toronto feels fortunate to be coming into her prime in the sport as Canada gears up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“The popularity is growing, the amount of clubs opening is bigger and the amount of coaches immigrating to help train our players is growing, so it’s a good time to be in the sport and it’s really picking up. It’s really exciting,” Hondrich said.
That’s something Morissette agrees with.
“Our goal is to come back with medals from Tokyo and that’s what were building to do.”
The Yonex Canada Open runs through Sunday at Winsport, for more info Canadaopen.net.