Ridgebacks’ badminton peak performer for January

Photograph by Tracy Wright

Zhiyi Chen, recently received the OUA peak performance award.

Zhiyi Chen has been playing badminton for more than six years. When he was younger, his parents let him try different sports. He chose badminton and has stuck with it ever since.

Chen, 18, currently plays badminton for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks. He was awarded the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) peak performer in January.

This is a first for Chen and for the Ridgebacks badminton team which came into existence two years ago. He initially did not know he was awarded the OUA peak performer until a group chat with his friends. He did not know what the award was either.

The next day his coach Wayne King, shook Chen’s hand and congratulated him on the award. The peak performer award is given to an athlete who has improved.  Chen is a freshman at UOIT and is studying engineering.

Chen was born in Singapore and grew up taking part in soccer and running.

“There were no ice sports,” he says as he smiles.

His family moved to Colorado in the United States and lived there for three years. At the age of eleven his family moved to Canada and he now lives in Richmond Hill.

“I think this year I have improved quite a lot,” says Chen, who has worked at his sport for many hours this year. The school year started out with four, two-hour, training sessions a week and Elite Training Service (ETS)where strength and cardio training is done for an hour once a week.

When not working out or training for badminton, he can be found in a study room or library.

As for his parents’ involvement, Chen says, “my parents were really involved when we were younger but when we got older they became less involved to the point where they just drove me to tournaments. My mom sometimes watches my games but my dad doesn’t which is a good thing I feel because there is less pressure when they are not around.”

Chen says most communication is done by coach King, “He talks to them about all the technical stuff of how I performed.”

Another first for Chen is playing with his brother, Sheng Chen, who is also a student at UOIT. “I have played more with my brother recently as coach Wayne thinks we’re pretty good as pairs in doubles so we play together a lot. He is better at doubles and I’m better at singles,” says Chen. King is pleased for his young athlete.

“This is a really special award. Zhiyi is richly deserving of it,” says King in a press release.