by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Have badminton racquet will travel.
For the Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder badminton duo of brother-and-sister Takeisha and Desmond Wang, the sport of their choosing has allowed them to globetrot around the world.
With birdie in hand, they have competed in exotic locales including Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Spain and Taiwan..
The most important trip though, was before they were born, when their father Wen Wang, at age 21, immigrated to Canada in 1988 from his native China.
A member of the Chinese Junior National Badminton team from 1985-1988, he became a coach at the Royal Glenora Club in Edmonton, while also showcasing his talents on Canada's badminton scene with three Canadian singles titles between 1990 - 1997 along with a doubles title in 1999.
So it is natural that Takeshia and Desmond would have badminton racquets in hand at a young age.
"My earliest memory was dad throwing birds at me when he was (coaching) at the Glenora," recalls Takeshia, 20,
"I was maybe five and hitting with both of my parents," reminisces Desmond, 18, of the time spent with his father and mother Shirley (Mah), who was also competitive on the national badminton level.
Those early days immersed in a badminton culture led to impressive sport resumes.
For Takeshia it includes numerous trips to provincial, national and international competition including Pan-Am Junior Badminton Championships and Summer Universiade Games.
One would need an abacas to tally her medal count.
Pan-Am gold was given in 2013, Under-17 mixed doubles with Ty Lindeman; 2011 Under-17 girls doubles with Josephine Wu and 2010 Under-15 girls doubles with Kyleigh O'Donoghue.
For three consecutive years she was Canadian National girls doubles champion teaming up with Josephine Wu from 2012-2013 and then Michelle Tong in 2014.
She is defending Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) women's single champion and at Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) national competition, she had brought home 2017 silver in women's singles and a 2016 bronze in women's doubles.
In last year's gold medal match she was up against three-time CCAA Female Badminton Player of the Year Olivia Lei (Humber College).
Lei would go on to beat Wang for gold 21-8, 21-13, becoming only the second three-time CCAA Champion in Women's Singles, joining Rui Lin Huang (PACWEST) who captured four consecutive championships.
In the recent Badminton Canada ranking, Takeisha is listed at No. 10 in women's singles with her club play out of the B-Active Badminton Club along with a No. 10 ranking in mixed doubles and No. 7 in women's doubles.
Plenty of accolades for a game, which at one time frame, she "found boring" and was "close to quitting."
"Originally (after high school graduation) I was going to quit badminton and was pretty set on going to University of Alberta to focus just on school," admits Takeisha. "But (Concordia badminton coach) Kevin MacAlpine offered me a good opportunity where I could focus on school while playing the sport I love."
A sport for which she had lost passion.
"It was during my junior years that I did not like the sport anymore. I was bored. I was around 17 or 18 and it was getting repetitive and there was the pressure to win. I was basically close to quitting. All the training and I was not improving as much as I was before. And the tournaments were getting more stressful and very competitive and I was done with that.
"But going to college I realized the fun part again. It took me a couple of months to get back into it. Playing in college, it was not as a competitive environment and I said to myself, "Take it easy. Have fun." The atmosphere was super and I learned that it was not all about just winning or losing. That was the way I was brought up. You trained only to win."
Her mother is co-owner of the B-Active Badminton Club where her father Wen is the head coach.
Takeisha is still young enough to carry the Olympic dream but for now it is concentration on ACAC and possible CCAA championships.
"I still take my losses pretty hard but it doesn't affect me negatively as much anymore."
At 18, Desmond also showcases badminton talent.
At the 2016 Pan Am Junior Badminton Championships he teamed up with Brian Yang to capture Under -19 boys doubles gold.
Last month he was in Yogyakarta, Indonesia for more than two weeks competing at the 2017 BWF World Junior Championships.
Of the experience, his second time at a BWF World Junior Championship, the previous one in Spain, he said: "When I was young, I didn't think that I would play badminton as competitively as I do today. It has been a lot of fun traveling around and experiencing different cultures and playing badminton at the same time."
Desmond, like his sister, is enrolled in Bachelor of Science and is one of four first-year players on the Concordia squad.
"Having her here (Concordia) is great as she helps me out a lot with school work and we help each other out at the courts during practice."
Asked of the pressure of playing high-calibre badminton: "There are times when I have felt the pressure would get to me but right now I am in a place where I like to play and compete and don't think about the outcome. Just play for fun."
Badminton Canada rankings have him listed at No. 9 in men's singles with his club play out of the B-Active Badminton Club along with a No. 2 in Under-19 boys doubles and No. 7 in Under 19-mixed doubles.
At the recent ACAC Badminton Tournament #1 hosted by Concordia, Takeisha claimed the women's single title and teamed up with Nicolas Pittman to also claim the mixed doubles. Desmond was second in men's singles and men's doubles partnering with Raphael Wong.