Two silver and two bronze medals at the nationals cap off the best season in the history of GBC badminton
That sums up the 2017-18 badminton season for George Brown College (GBC). The program reached unprecedented heights, and it all culminated at the national championships where the Huskies took home four medals.
Yuge (Ace) Zeng and Anh Hoang earned silver medals in men’s and women’s singles, respectively. In women’s doubles, fifth-year veteran Yunji Kim teamed up with Angeline Alviar to claim the bronze. Mike Ra and Amy Ding rounded out the medal haul, capturing bronze in mixed doubles.
The performance on the national stage continued a season-long showcase of GBC’s depth. The fact there wasn’t a gold medal returning home with the Huskies couldn’t overshadow the group’s overall success.
“Sending four teams to nationals and then coming back with every single athlete getting a national medal, you cannot ask for a better season,” said head coach Will Schram. “Gold would be nice, but just the fact that they were able to all get medals means more, to the team then just one person getting gold and one person not getting a medal.”
For Zeng, who was undefeated all season and named the Ontario College Athletic Association’s (OCAA) top men’s badminton player, expectations were high going into the national championship. However, the first-year Husky ran into Concordia University’s Desmond Wang, who put up a perfect record in the tournament, and took the gold medal match in straight games.
Hoang, who battled an injury to get to the women’s singles title match, was forced to retire, clinching the gold for Concordia’s Takeisha Wang. The silver medal follows a gold at the OCAA championships for Hoang.
In the women’s doubles event, Kim and Alviar bounced back from a semi-final defeat to win the bronze medal match over Caitlyn New and Kaitlyn Wilbee of Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. The victory was especially meaningful for Kim, who made the tough decision to enter doubles as opposed to singles prior to the playoffs.
“My goal was to medal at nationals. It’s my last year, I wanted to finish it with a bang,” Kim said. “I played with Angeline two years ago. We qualified for nationals but unfortunately we were unable to medal. We both knew that we wanted to medal.”
The surprise of the season might have been the late-season surge by Ra and Ding. After squeaking into the provincial championships by virtue of a third-place finish at the east regional, the GBC mixed-doubles team rolled to a provincial silver medal and then capped it with bronze at the nationals. Ra and Ding outlasted Sam White and Sam Lawther of University of King’s College in three games.
Also adding to the season’s hardware along the way, Alex Chao and Yang Jin won the OCAA men’s doubles bronze medal as GBC became only the second program in the OCAA’s history to sweep both the men’s and women’s team titles.
The four national medals, five provincial medals, including two golds and pair of team titles, equal by far the greatest season not only in the school’s badminton history, but in 50 years of GBC’s athletics program.
Now the question is how the Huskies match this success next season. According to Schram, aside from losing Kim and Alviar, all the medalists should be returning. In another twist, there may also be a new face among the doubles ranks.
“Next year I’ll try doubles or mixed doubles,” revealed Zeng. “I know singles is my strongest event but I also want to win more titles in doubles or mixed doubles.”
Perhaps a scary thought for those hoping to knock GBC from the top of the mountain in the OCAA.