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Zhang Captures OFSAA Badminton Gold

James Zhang, Grade 11, recently capped off his St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) spring athletic season by capturing a badminton gold medal at the OFSAA championships.

SMCS badminton student-athlete James Zhang with his OFSAA gold

“James has played for the badminton team since Grade 9, improving in maturity and game play over the last three seasons, which has benefitted him greatly in both CISAA and OFSAA badminton competitions. He does not get rattled and has a quiet confidence about him,” says Kevin Toste, coach and faculty member. “This year, he has demonstrated a combination of physical and technical abilities, as well as mental fortitude and tactical awareness. He frustrates his opponents with his level of play and, despite his growing list of accomplishments, still has not reached his full potential.”

Leading up to this year’s OFSAA championship run, Zhang had won a 2022 CISAA silver medal in U16 doubles badminton, a 2023 CISAA gold medal in junior singles 2, and a 2024 CISAA gold medal in senior singles 2.

“I felt like I’ve always been ready to compete at OFSAA, but this was the first year I had the opportunity to go. As soon as the opportunity came, I knew it was time to get ready and perform.”

Zhang attended the three-day 2024 OFSAA tournament in Barrie, Ontario, as one of the two CISAA representatives for singles badminton. He kicked off the competition on day one, facing a tough slate of competitors in flight A. After winning his first two matches, Zhang dropped a hard-fought final match to an international competitor from Ukraine’s junior team.

“After day one of the tournament, I felt nervous and excited at the same time,” says Zhang. “It was scary not knowing who your next opponents were, but once the game started, everything fell into place for me, and all I had to do was play my game.”

On day two of the championships, Zhang, now competing in flight B, quickly made a name for himself, winning three consecutive matches to qualify for the OFSAA championship match.

SMCS badminton student-athlete James Zhang playing at OFSAA

“His incredible ability to get to every shot and his strength to dictate play enabled him to reach the championship final match,” says Toste.

The last time a SMCS student-athlete competed for an OFSAA medal in badminton was Andrew Wilkinson ’11, who secured an OFSAA silver medal in flight A in 2011.

In the championship final, Zhang faced off against a competitor from Ottawa. The first two matches were tightly contested, with each competitor winning a set. In the third set, Zhang overcame a hint of nerves and frustration, allowing his work ethic and skill to take over. He won several highlight-worthy points to take the final set and the OFSAA gold medal.

SMCS badminton student-athlete James Zhang and Coach Toste

“Mr. Toste has been incredibly supportive throughout my journey. Before games, he would always have something prepared to help me calm down my nerves and be able to play my best,” says Zhang. “Whether it was a quick look during points or a few words at intervals during games, he always stayed optimistic, which helped me play my best.”

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