Name: Grace Gao
Hometown: Calgary, AB
Favorite Sports Memory: I have always enjoyed team events, like Pan Am Championships and the biggest game for me yet: the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India. I would say that my favorite memory was the time spent with my team, and competing for Canada in the Commonwealth Games last year. It is a different atmosphere where I had teammates cheering for me, and vice versa, because usually badminton is a more individual sport, so being able to enjoy the support from my teammates is a personal favorite memory.
How you got involved in your sport: My Dad was the one who got me started when I was little back in China, where the sport of badminton is very popular to say the least. However, I did not start competing and formally training until after I came to Canada, so in that sense I am truly a Canadian player.
The moment you knew you wanted to represent Canada: It came at the same time as the first time that I represented Canada at the Junior Pan Am Championships. Canada was one of the powerhouses in the competition, and I was proud to have the Canadian jersey on and play for my country. This was the first time that I experienced the pride of playing for Canada. When I am traveling around the world to compete, the reputation that Canadians have worldwide is so positive and that makes me proud to be Canadian. Because of my pride in my country and in all Canadians, I feel privileged to represent Canada, and I will do my best to live up to its reputation.
Favorite Quote: “Love is patient, love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude, never selfish, not quick to take offence. There is nothing love cannot face, there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and endurance. In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of them all is love.”
CAN Fund Testimonial: I heard about CAN Fund from one of my sponsors, Badminton Calgary. They encouraged me to apply for it. I read through its mission statement and was encouraged by its objectives such as helping athletes focusing on striving for excellence by raising money and awareness to our existence and our journey to our dreams. With the financial help that CAN Fund has offered, I will be able to improve my training, competition opportunities and living standard in pursuit of my Olympic dream for 2012. And not only that, I am encouraged by the message (as an athlete that has recently joined the CAN Fund family) that I have the power and the means to help others just like me. As one of them, I know how much it means and what it takes to achieve our goals. And knowing that it is a two way process motivates me to do better in my own sport and promoting ideas of CAN Fund to others around me.
– 2010 Pan American Badminton Championships: Gold Medalist in the Team Event and Individual Events (Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles)
– Highest world ranking achieved is 16th in mixed doubles in 2010
– Won 2011 Canadian National Championships in mixed doubles
Fun Facts: I immigrated to Canada with family from China when I was 14. I am fluent in both English and Chinese. I am a Christian.