Olivia Meier Defies Expectations with Bronze Medal Win at Parapan American Games

Olivia Meier arrived in Santiago, Chile for the Parapan American Games unsure of whether she could still compete with the top para badminton players in the world.

The Winnipeg product was ranked as high as seventh in the world but has slid to 26th over the last two years as international play has taken a backseat to her law studies at the University of Ottawa.

Meier proved she could still swat the shuttlecock with the best of em’, defeating Peru’s Jenny Ventocilla 2-0 to capture bronze in the women’s singles SL4 event.

“This time around it meant a lot,” Meier, 24, said of returning to the podium. Meier won silver in the same event and gold in mixed doubles at the 2019 ParaPanAm American Games in Lima, Peru. She qualified for the 2021 Paralympic Games, where she became the first Canadian to compete in the Para badminton event.

“It’s been a lot, it’s been challenging, balancing both (badminton and school) and at times my studies have taken priority. It’s really been my second international tournament since starting law school so it means a lot to make the podium and I can tell that I’m still quite competitive to play against and (can) call myself one of the best athletes in the PanAm Games for women’s singles.

“It definitely helped re-affirm where I stand.”

Meier lives with hemiparesis, a disability that weakens the muscles on the right side of her body. She’s forced to serve differently and use unconventional footwork, as a result.

But her disability was the least of her worries throughout the tournament, as she was challenged mentally at many points while she scrambled to find her footing on the court again. Meier’s semi-final match was no exception as she was outdueled 2-0 by Brazil’s Edwarda Oliveira, who she had no prior experience playing against.

“Of course, losing any semi-final, you’re so close to reaching the final so it is always a little bit disappointing. I think, for me, what helped me regroup were my coaches and my teammates here. I really leaned on them mentally here,” Meier said.

“Quite honestly, that’s been the biggest obstacle here that I’ve had to face, is just getting in that competition mindset and gaining that back because I haven’t been in that mindset in about a year and a bit.”

On Friday, Canada settled for the silver medal in women’s wheelchair basketball following a 62-56 loss to the United States in the final. Bethany Johnson of Winnipeg is a member of the squad.

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Meier will still have to fight to balance badminton and her studies as she continues her second year of law, but at least she knows she’s still got it, whenever she returns to the court again.

“The goal coming in was just to try to play as best as I could, try to make the podium in one or two events. I’m extremely happy I was able to reach that goal and it’s been really great just being back seeing all the faces. I’ve been around these faces for six or seven years, it’s always great travelling with the team,” she said.

“I love coming to these events, it’s always a great time.”

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Joshua Frey-Sam

Joshua Frey-Sam happily welcomes a spirited sports debate any day of the week.

2023-11-27 08:00:08
#Badminton #bronze #Winnipegs #Meier #Winnipeg #Free #Press


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