Lacombe Outreach badminton player finishes fifth at provincials

: Lacombe Outreach School’s Melvin Biro, pictured here with Coach Margaret Rowland, finished in fifth place at the 2019 ASAA Provincials in Calgary earlier this month. Photo supplied

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A Lacombe Outreach School student-athlete made some history earlier this month.

Grade 11 student Melvin Biro became the first at the school the qualify for provincials in badminton – and as if that wasn’t enough, he then impressed by finishing in the top eight – fifth place – in Intermediate Boys Singles at the 2019 Alberta Schools Athletic Association provincial tournament in Calgary May 3-4.

When asked what contributed to his success, he said it all came back to his drive.

“Determination and not giving up,” he said. “If I would’ve gave up in any of my games, I wouldn’t have made it that far.”

Biro first got into badminton at the junior high level. He started playing boys doubles in Grade 7 where he made it to CWAJHAA’s with his partner. However, he and his partner ultimately weren’t the right fit, and when he switched to attending Lacombe Outreach, he didn’t have the same opportunity to play badminton.

While outreach schools are designed to offer students an informal, flexible learning environment, sports can be difficult to provide, especially given smaller student populations, and so it wasn’t until last year that Biro picked the sport back up again, this time as a singles player.

He was successful at Areas, but finished fourth in his pool at Zones, which wasn’t enough to move on to provincials.

“It’s pretty difficult playing against those players that actually have proper coaches and mentors,” he said of going up against public and catholic school clubs. “It was a bit of a challenge to keep up with everyone else that had all that training.”

After a year of practice outside of school – primarily at the Abbey Centre in Blackfalds, as well as a few practices with a mentor in Ponoka – he says he’s seen a noticeable improvement in his game and how he makes shots.

This year, he finished top two in Areas, and then in Zones to finally qualify for provincials, which were held this year in Calgary.

He dropped his first match in two games, falling 21-14, 21-11, but bounced back in his second match with 21-12 and 21-14 wins. In his third match, he won in three games with 21-11, 14-21 and 22-10 scores, but ultimately lost to Daniel Bernier in the quarter-finals by scores of 21-16 and 21-19. Bernier would finish fourth, with Biro right behind him in fifth.

LCHS also sent badminton players to provincials over the weekend. Ethan Butcher and Brady Savage won gold in Jr. Boys Doubles in Category B. In the round robin, they lost their first match in two games, their second in three games, but won their fourth in three games.

It was the playoff round where they shone, taking all their matches in two games, including 21-10, 21-10 in the quarter-finals, 21-12, 21-14 in semifinals and then defeating St. Paul St. Paul Regional’s Matheo Martin and Bradley Mistol 21-15, 21-14 in the final for gold.

Jerrica Shandro and Dom Robinson won bronze in Sr. mixed doubles in Category B. In the round robin, they dropped their first match in two games and their second match in three, but won their third in two games to earn a spot in the playoff round.

They won in two games – 21-14, 21-18 – in the quarter-finals, but fell in the semis to Hunting Hills High School’s Bailee Mah and Daniel Moon 21-13, 21-8 and were relegated to the bronze game. There, they defeated EW Pratt’s Grace Pardell and Andres Garci-Diaz 22-20 and 21-19 to finish third.

Results can be accessed via the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) website at www.asaa.ca/championships/site/2019-asaa-badminton-provincials.

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