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Four Team Canada badminton players seek a smashing performance at Paris 2024

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Four Canadian badminton athletes will look to smash some big goals at Paris 2024. With three returning Olympians and one athlete making his Olympic debut, the team is long on experience and knows how to perform under pressure, as evidenced by their history of strong results on the international stage.

Team Canada will be represented by Michelle Li (women’s singles), Brian Yang (men’s singles) and the duo of Nyl Yakura and Adam Dong (men’s doubles).

Li is Canada’s most successful female badminton player. A six-time singles gold medallist at the Pan Am Championships, she took silver just a few weeks ago in Guatemala. She finished as the runner-up after returning from knee surgery and rehab that kept her out of competing at what would have been her fourth Pan Am Games last fall. 

Paris 2024 will be Li’s fourth Olympic appearance, offering veteran leadership and experience to the team. At Tokyo 2020, Li went 2-0 in group play to advance to the Round of 16–a result that matched the best-ever Canadian finish in women’s singles at any Olympic Games.  

Canadian badminton player Michelle Li plays against Martina Repiska of Slovakia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. Photo by Leah Hennel/COC

“It always is an amazing feeling and unforgettable experience to qualify for an Olympics. The qualification process itself is such a challenge, it’s an absolute grind to overcome the number of unexpected challenges we face in this year,” said Li. “For me I battled injury, recovery from surgery, change in coaching, training, financial situation and other struggles. I’m really happy I was still able to pull through and qualify for my fourth Olympics.”

In men’s singles, Team Canada will be represented by Yang, suiting up for his second Olympic appearance. Still just 22 years old, he won gold at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games, upgrading himself from the silver he took home from Lima 2019.  He has an impressive medal streak at the Pan American Championships, winning gold in 2021 and 2023, silver in 2022, and bronze in 2024.

This past January, he became the first men’s singles player from the Pan American region to ever reach the final of a BWF Super Tour 500 event as he won silver at the Indonesia Masters. 

Yang was unsatisfied with his final placing at Tokyo 2020, where he did not advance past the group stage. He is looking forward to the energy of a post-COVID Games to help spur him on.

Brian Yang lunges for the birdie while wearing a red Team Canada uniform
Brian Yang of Canada competes in Badminton Men’s Singles semifinals during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. Photo by Thomas Skrlj/COC

“I’m feeling very excited and looking forward to the experience and competing, because even though the qualification race was not super stressful for me compared to Tokyo, I feel like this time I have a better shot at doing well, and it will also have a full crowd and I’m hoping a crazier atmosphere than what Tokyo offered under COVID restrictions” said Yang.

Yakura and Dong will be a formidable pair in the men’s doubles tournament. They won the gold medal at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games, winning hearts with their exuberant post-match celebration. They most recently won silver at the 2024 Pan American Championships after taking the title last year. 

The duo have an interesting history together, first competing briefly as a team in 2016 before Dong chose to retire to focus on supporting his young family. While he founded and operated the Lions Badminton Training Centre in Burlington, Ontario, Yakura was part of a successful partnership with Jason Ho-Shue, with whom he made his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. 

Nyl Yakura, front, and Adam Dong of Canada celebrate after defeating Castillo Galindo and Luis Montoya Navarro of Mexico in the Men’s Badminton Doubles semifinals during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. Photo by Andrew Lahodynskyj/COC

Yakura and Dong re-forged their partnership in late 2021 when Dong decided he had unfinished business with the sport of badminton. He is now set to compete at his first Olympic Games. 

“I’m super thrilled that Adam and I have qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games! It will be my second time at the Olympics and it’s an amazing opportunity that I am truly proud of and grateful to have achieved alongside Adam and everyone who has been a part of our journey”, says Yakura.

Badminton will be played at the Porte de La Chapelle Arena, with group play beginning on July 27 before the playoff rounds get underway on August 1. 

Team Canada Badminton Athletes at Paris 2024:

Adam Dong (Burlington, Ont.) – Men’s Doubles 

Michelle Li (Markham, Ont.) – Women’s Singles 

Nyl Yakura (Pickering, Ont.) – Men’s Doubles

Brian Yang (Richmond Hill, Ont.) – Men’s Singles

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