Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Li Wins Third Straight Pan Am Singles Badminton Gold on Dominant Day for Canada

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Li Wins Third Straight Pan Am Singles Badminton Gold on Dominant Day for Canada

Article excerpt

Li wins singles gold for third Pan Ams in row

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LIMA, Peru - Rachel Honderich was in her early teens when she first started training with Canadian badminton star Michelle Li a decade ago.

Since then, Li has been a friend, mentor, teammate and training partner. Every so often she's an opponent too.

That's when Honderich sees the side of Li that propelled her to a third straight Pan Am Games women's singles title.

"On court there's no friends," Li said. "Sometimes it's hard for me to focus and not be too relentless, but at the same time you've got to do it."

Li showed no mercy Friday with a 21-11, 21-19 victory over Honderich in a tidy 34 minutes. She won her first Pan Am title eight years ago in Guadalajara and beat Honderich four years ago in Toronto.

"I think it's always going to be up there as one of the bigger tournaments and bigger moments," Li said. "Even though this is my third one, I try to treat it as my first and just do my best."

Honderich has focused more on women's doubles over the last year in her pursuit of Olympic qualification. She won doubles gold with Kristen Tsai of Surrey, B.C., earlier in the day with a 21-10, 21-9 win over American duo Jamie Hsu and Kuei-Ya Chen.

Even though it's not her main discipline, the Toronto player is still ranked 75th in the world in singles. She knew it would be a tall order to knock off the 12th-ranked Li.

"I've played her (several) times and I know she can turn it on when it matters near the end," Honderich said. "It's hard when you can feel it starting to happen and you're doing everything you can to stop it. But she played well on the important crucial points.

"So I'm a little bit disappointed but credit to her."

They joined a parade of Canadian athletes to the badminton podium Friday at the Videna Sports Complex. Canada won four gold and three silver medals on the day, picking up some valuable Olympic qualification points along the way. …

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