The following article is an introduction to a new contributor to BadmintonLife.com, Canadian badminton player Fiona McKee. Fiona is a multiple National Champion and Pan Am Champion in women’s doubles and mixed doubles. If you’d like to read more about Fiona and her badminton life you can visit her blog at FionaMcKee.ca.
I started my badminton career at the Toronto Granite Club training in their junior program with Mike DeBelle. When I graduated from high school, I was accepted into various Ontario universities for science or kinesiology. I chose to attend the University of Calgary for kinesiology as completing my university degree in Calgary gave me the opportunity to train in the Glencoe Club’s National Badminton program. I wanted to combine badminton and university because I wasn’t ready to stop playing as I felt I hadn’t reached my badminton potential. The badminton program at the Glencoe Club provided me with top-level training and coaching within Canada to improve my badminton skills and understanding of the game. This decision was the right one aafts I received great training with the coaches at the Glencoe–Ardy Wiranata and Bryan Moody.
While at the Glencoe, I won U19 Mixed Doubles Nationals with Billy DeJong, U23 Mixed Nationals and Women’s Doubles Nationals with Samantha Ralph, and Senior Nationals in Women’s Doubles with Charmaine Reid. However, from the start, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to train full time, attend competitions, and complete my degree in four years and thus I took a reduced program each year. This proved to be the right decision because I got to travel the world and compete in the top badminton tournaments in 32 countries without having to give up my education. I didn’t want to have to choose one or the other.
Then the opportunity came to train with Kim Dong Moon. My mixed partner at the time, Will Milroy, encouraged me to train with Kim Dong Moon as he felt that Kim being a previous world mixed doubles champion had to the most to offer us in Canada for mixed training and strategy. I spent one year training with Kim and won the Senior Mixed Nationals and Pan Am Championships with Will Milroy and went to the Worlds in India winning our first round. I learned so much about badminton during this year. Kim provided me with a higher understanding of the game, not just at a physical level, but also a mental level.
After Will retired, I didn’t have a mixed partner at Kim’s and left. Since then, I have had partnership troubles. When my mixed partner dropped me part way through this year’s badminton season, I lost my national carding, Quest for Gold funding, and chance to attend the Commonwealth Games. I have always loved mixed and doubles, but now realize that you are dependent on a partner that can let you down at important times. Personally, it is a tough time when you have goals and dreams that can’t be reached due to the poor decisions of others. It took me a while to get over this letdown by the actions of a partner that I couldn’t control or influence or really understand.
Feeling pretty low and not even sure if I wanted to compete in badminton anymore, a surprise opportunity came my way. Sune Gavnholt of the Danish Badminton League (Danmarks Badminton Forbund Badmintonligaen) contacted me about joining the Ikast Badminton Club to compete for its team in the first Danish league. I would also be given the opportunity to compete in international tournaments with some of the other players from the Danish club.
This opportunity enables me to continue competing in badminton for another season. I need goals and a competitive environment to be able to go out and train everyday. I would love to say that I always have an undying love for the game of badminton, but that is very unrealistic. I have to have goals that I am working towards to keep me motivated. Training isn’t always fun, but winning is and I train so that I can experience winning and achieving my goals.
After losing my chance at the Commonwealth Games and now not having a mixed partner, I was just training for the sake of training and that had become hard. Competing for a team in the Danish league couldn’t have come at a better time when I was lost about where to go with badminton. I definitely didn’t feel I was ready to stop playing and competing but I didn’t feel like there was much left for me in Canada. I graduated with a four-year degree in Kinesiology this past year and instead of looking for full-time employment, I decided to sign with the Danish Club. I had never dreamed that I would ever have an opportunity like this and knew I just couldn’t let it pass me by.
I have had opportunities in the past to play on teams and really enjoyed the experience (Pan Am Games in Rio, Sudirman Cup in Scotland, and Canada Winter Games in New Brunswick). The added excitement of everyone on a team working together to achieve common goals is so rare in badminton.
I have met badminton players that felt they retired too early and never got to achieve their badminton goals and others that felt they hung in too long and lost education or employment opportunities. With my formal education ending, this coming year provides me with one more chance to reach my full badminton potential; I hope this will be the compromise between retiring too soon and hanging in too long.
Alright, the last event of the day, here is your line up:
Will Milroy and Toby Ng vs Timothy Ma and Kyle Hunter
The game is just underway and right now Will and Toby are leading 5-0 in the first game
At the first game interval Will and Toby were leading 11-1, it’s now 13-2 in the first.
Will and Toby dominated the first game winning 21-5.
Will and Toby still dominating, 17-8 in the second game
Match won by Will and Toby 21-5, 21-11. Yet another doubles national title for Will Milroy, and a first for Toby Ng since juniors (I’m assuming he won in juniors?)
Here is the finals line up:
Will Milroy and Fiona McKee vs Toby Ng and Grace Gao
Toby and Grace won the first game but it looks like the second game is going to Will and Fiona. I missed most of the first, but I think it was 21-17 or so.
Will and Fiona won the second 21-11, and now it’s 4-1 in the third for Toby and Grace.
Very close in the third game, Toby and Grace lead 13-12.
(Sorry there’s no action shots, my iPhone sucks for capturing movement.)
Will and Fiona just won the match, third game was 21-16.
My battery is running low here so I won’t be able to update as frequently. Here is the line up for the mens doubles semi-finals:
Will Milroy and Toby Ng vs Francois Champagne and Manuel Thomas
Kyle Hunter and Timothy Ma vs Mike Beres and Alvin Lau
I missed what happened on court 2, but they’re already in the second game, I think Mike and Alvin won the first. On court 1 Will and Toby are leading 13-7.
Will and Toby won the first game 21-10. Kyle and Timothy are losing 17-11, and it looks like they actually won the first game.
I totally got the scores wrong for court 2… Kyle and Tim just won the match, didn’t hear the scores, but the are in the finals now.
Pretty surprised, Will and Toby just lost the second game, starting the third now.
Will and Toby are leading at the interval, 11-6.
Will and Toby won the match, last game was 21-11.
So the finals line up is Kyle Hunter and Timothy Ma vs Will Milroy and Toby Ng.