OTTAWA – A squad of nine Para badminton players have been nominated to compete for Canada at the Santiago 2023 Parapan Am Games, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Badminton Canada announced on Friday.
Santiago 2023 Canadian Parapan Am Team – PARA BADMINTON
- Mikhail Bilenky – Burnaby, BC – WH1
- Yuka Chokyu – Vancouver, BC – WH1
- Colleen Cloetta – Baie d’Urfe, QC – SS6
- Justin Kendrick – Oakville, ON – SS6
- Bernard Lapointe – Moncton, NB – WH2
- Pascal Lapointe – Montreal, QC – SL4
- Wyatt Lightfoot – Assiniboia, SK – SS6
- Olivia Meier – Winnipeg, MB – SL4/SU5
- William Roussy – Baie-des-Chaleurs, QC – SL3
Olivia Meier is the team’s lone Paralympian in the sport of Para badminton, which made its Paralympic Games debut at Tokyo 2020. She is currently the No. 25-ranked player in the world in women’s SL4 singles. Yuka Chokyu, currently ranked world No. 8 in the WH1 classification, is also a Paralympian. She made three Games appearances (2000, 2004, 2008) in wheelchair tennis.
“I am very proud to have qualified for the 2023 Parapan Am Games in Santiago,” said Meier. “The 2019 Games in Lima were a blast, and I am excited to have the opportunity once again to represent Canada with my teammates.”
Six members of the team also competed at the Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games in Para badminton, the first time the sport was included on the program. Five athletes came home with medals – Meier with a gold in mixed doubles and silver in singles, Pascal Lapointe (No. 31 ranking) with a gold in mixed doubles and bronze in singles, Chokyu with a silver in singles, and Bernard Lapointe with a bronze in men’s doubles.
Bernard Lapointe is currently on the comeback trail after missing the 2022 season due to injury.
Four years ago, Colleen Cloetta (No. 29) was Canada’s youngest athlete at Lima 2019 at 14 years old, competing in Para swimming. She won a bronze as part of the women’s 4x100m medley relay team and will be returning to Parapan Am action in her new sport of Para badminton.
Also returning from the Lima 2019 team are Wyatt Lightfoot (No. 15) and William Roussy (No. 11).
“I keep saying fake it ‘till you make it. I feel super lucky that I get to do this again and I’m really looking forward to playing at the Games,” said Bernard Lapointe. “After shoulder surgery last year my future in sports was on hold so now that I’m back in here competing makes me super happy and fortunate the way everything panned out.”
First-time Games participants will be Mikhail Bilenky (No. 26) and Justin Kendrick (No. 18).
“I have been working hard in the past year to get nominated for the Parapan Am Games,” said Kendrick. “I am really looking forward to competing in my first multi-sport event.”
Para badminton competition at the Parapan Am Games will take place November 22-26 and include men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles. The tournament counts towards rankings points in the qualification race for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
All nine Canadian athletes will participate in the singles events of their classifications. Cloetta and Kendrick as well as Meier and Pascal Lapointe are also teaming up in mixed doubles, with Bilenky and Bernard Lapointe a pair in men’s doubles. Para badminton classifications are available for athletes who compete standing with upper or lower limb impairments as well as short stature athletes, and those who compete in a wheelchair.
“I am thrilled to welcome all nine Para badminton athletes to the Canadian Parapan Am Team,” said Josh Vander Vies, co-chef de mission of the Santiago 2023 Canadian Parapan Am Team. “It is a huge honour to represent your country at the Parapan Am Games, and I see all of the dedication and effort they have been putting in to reach this pinnacle. The entire team and I will be behind them in Santiago.”
“Congratulations to each and every Para badminton player and welcome to the team for Santiago!” said Karolina Wisniewska, co-chef de mission. “Para badminton is still a fairly new sport on the Parapan Am and Paralympic program, and I know it has been developing so much in Canada over the past few years. I can’t wait to witness it in person and cheer on these incredibly talented and hard working athletes.”
The Santiago 2023 Parapan Am Games will take place November 17-26, 2023 in Santiago, Chile. Canada is expecting to send a team of approximately 140 athletes.
Prior to being officially named to the Canadian Parapan Am Team, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
The current list of athletes nominated to the team can be found HERE. The approved final roster will be announced closer to the start of the Games.