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Record-breaking Manitoba racquetball star retires, joins national team staff

Jennifer Saunders.
Jennifer Saunders. Racquetball Canada / Twitter

One of Manitoba’s most decorated athletes is retiring from competition but says she won’t be leaving her sport entirely.

With a record 24 titles — 11 Canadian Women’s Singles Championships and 13 Canadian Women’s Doubles Championships — over her lengthy career, local racquetball legend Jennifer Saunders told 680 CJOB’s Kelly Moore she’s moving into an administrative role with Racquetball Canada.

Saunders’ full title with the organization is Administrator of High Performance and Sport Development, but she describes it more simply as the role of a “high-performance director”.

“I’m going to get the opportunity to manage the national team program, which I’m really looking forward to, and there’s also going to be time spent on officiating and coaching development.”

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On top of her Canadian titles, the Thompson-born athlete also has an enviable resume of international honours, including 18 medals at World Championships, Pan Am Games, and other high-profile competitions.

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Despite her record-breaking success, Saunders said she didn’t always appreciate winning championships the way she should have. She said she worked with a sports psychologist near the end of her career to work on enjoying the moment and being proud of her accomplishments.

“There were some national championships that I probably didn’t enjoy as much as I should have because I was expected to win, and they were more like a relief instead of being joyful about it,” she said.

“My advice (to athletes) is always be in the moment. Enjoy what you’re doing day-to-day.

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“For a racquetball player, you’re at the gym for weeks at a time before you get to compete, and that can become difficult… but when I learned to enjoy my time in the gym and enjoy the preparation, I became more successful and enjoyed myself more.”

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Local Fencers embrace the Sport in Manitoba
Local Fencers embrace the Sport in Manitoba