Author: Jean Wong/Wednesday, February 3, 2016/Categories: Latest News
By Jacqueline Doorey, CBC Sports Posted: Feb 02, 2016 2:26 PM ET Last Updated: Feb 02, 2016 2:26 PM ET
Canada's most successful female badminton player, Michelle Li will be defending her title in women's singles this week at the national championships in Winnipeg. (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images)
This week's Yonex Canadian National Badminton Championships in Winnipeg will offer a glimpse at the players who will eventually make up Canada's Olympic team for Rio 2016.
More than 120 players will be chasing not only national titles, but funding, carding and the chance to wear the maple leaf at events all over the globe.
CBCSports.ca will have live streaming coverage on Saturday starting at 1 p.m. ET.
Here are eight facts to get you caught up on Canada's national badminton team and what this tournament means for both our athletes and the Olympic Games.
Athletes will be competing for Canadian titles in men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles.
Michelle Li, who is currently ranked 15th in the world in women's singles, will be back defending her national title in that event. Alex Bruce and Toby Ng, ranked 33rd internationally, will also be defending their title in mixed doubles.
Seven Canadian players are currently tracking to qualify for the Olympic Games, and six of them are playing this weekend. All six of Canada's medallists from last year's Pan Am Games will also be at nationals.
The one Olympic-tracking player not at nationals is Martin Giuffre, who is currently ranked 77th internationally in men's singles. He is injured and taking advantage of a two-week break in the international tournament schedule. Rio would be Giuffre's last Olympics — he plans to retire after this year.
Athletes' performances at nationals won't make or break their chances at earning a spot on the Olympic team, and no Olympic qualifying points can be won in Winnipeg.
Though they can't clinch Olympic spots, athletes consider this event an important date on their calendars because attending — and doing well — comes with benefits in terms of getting resources. Athletes' performances help Badminton Canada decide who gets carding and financial assistance. Also available are generous packages from sponsors, which can include clothing, equipment and travel subsidies.
Performances at nationals can sway Badminton Canada on who to select for its team. When looking at potential players, the federation considers both national and international results. For the the Olympic team, the federation considers mostly national results.
Ten players will be chosen for the national team, which will be solidified in May. Badminton Canada will announce the seven players selected for the Olympic team in April.
Tokyo 2020 may be more than four years away, but Team Canada is already tracking its next generation of players. Two such players are Qingzi Ouyang from Vancouver and Jason Ho-Shue from Markham, Ont., both 17, who are looking for a national title in mixed doubles.
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