The sport of badminton has provided ACAC gold medal winning siblings Takeisha and Desmond Wang, the opportunity to travel the world.
However, they now have the opportunity to earn CCAA medals in their hometown as the Concordia University of Edmonton prepares to host the 2018 CCAA Badminton National Championships.
One could surmise that their badminton journeys began even before they were born, when their father Wen Wang, at age 21, immigrated to Canada in 1988 from his native China.
A member of the Chinese Junior National Badminton team from 1985-1988, he became a coach at the Royal Glenora Club in Edmonton, while also showcasing his talents on Canada's badminton scene with three Canadian singles titles between 1990-1997 along with a doubles title in 1999.
So, it seems natural that Takeshia and Desmond would have badminton racquets in hand at a young age.
“My earliest memory was dad throwing birds at me when he was (coaching) at the Glenora,” recalls Takeshia, 20,
“I was maybe five and hitting with both of my parents,” reminisces Desmond, 18, of the time spent with his father and mother Shirley (Mah), who was also competitive on the national badminton level.
Being immersed in a badminton culture from an early age has led to impressive sport resumes for both student-athletes.
Takeshia’s accolades include numerous trips to provincial, national and international competitions including Pan-Am Junior Badminton Championships and Summer Universiade Games. She is 2017 and 2018 ACAC women’s singles champion and at CCAA National Championships, she has earned the 2017 silver in women's singles and a 2016 bronze in women’s doubles.
Despite all the achievements she came “close to quitting” the sport she grew up with.
“Originally (after high school graduation) I was going to quit badminton and was pretty set on going to University of Alberta to focus just on school,” admits Takeisha. “But (Concordia badminton coach) Kevin MacAlpine offered me a good opportunity where I could focus on school while playing the sport I love.”
A sport for which she had lost passion.
“It was during my junior years that I did not like the sport anymore. I was bored. I was around 17 or 18 and it was getting repetitive and there was the pressure to win. I was basically close to quitting. The tournaments were getting more stressful and very competitive and I was done with that.”
Takeisha is still young enough to carry the Olympic dream but for now her concentration lies with the ACAC and possibly CCAA championships.
“Going to college, I realized the fun part again. The atmosphere was super, and I learned that it was not all about just winning or losing.”
“I still take my losses pretty hard, but it doesn’t affect me negatively as much anymore.”
Desmond, like his sister, is enrolled in Bachelor of Science and is one of four first-year players on the Concordia squad. At 18, Desmond also showcases the family's badminton talent and as a fellow member of the Thunder badminton team is now an ACAC Men’s Singles Champion.
“Having her here (at Concordia) is great as she helps me out a lot with school work and we help each other out at the courts during practice.”
Asked of the pressure of playing high-calibre badminton: “There are times when I have felt the pressure would get to me but right now I am in a place where I like to play and compete and don't think about the outcome. Just play for fun.”
The 2018 CCAA Badminton National Championships will take place March 1-3 at the Concordia University of Edmonton’s Ralph King Athletic Centre.