Michelle Li – Pro Badminton Highlight

Published March 29, 2021

Who is Michelle Li?

Name: Michelle Li
Age: 29
Representing: Team Canada
BWF Ranking: 10
Lefty/Righty: Righty

Early Life

Michelle Li was born in Hong Kong, but moved with her parents and brother Mark to Canada at the age of 6 (in the late 90’s).  She began playing with her mom at a local community center.  She was only eleven years old at the time, and probably didn’t realize the mark she would make on the sport at that early age.  Shortly after starting to play, Michelle began competing in small local tournaments.  

Her desire to be the best landed her wins and motivated her to make improvements to her technique. In her own Facebook bio, she confirms that she was ‘always hungry to get better’? This is the same desire that pushed her to compete in bigger and bigger arenas until she found herself competing internationally at the young age of 17. She officially became a member of Team Canada in 2009.

Since becoming a member of the team, the sentence Michelle Li became the first Canadian player to… [insert amazing accomplishment here]. She’s been breaking barriers and stepping up to put Canada on the map for badminton competitions internationally.

In the 2011 Canada Winter games, Michelle won a gold medal in the women’s singles event. She rounded out the games with a second gold medal in the doubles event with her partner Alexandra Bruce. In that same year, she gobbled up another Gold medal alongside Bruce at the Pan American Games. And as if this didn’t show the world what a standout competitor Michelle Li was to badminton, the very next day she won another gold in the women’s singles in Guadalajara.

It was no surprise Michelle Li was on the ticket for the 2012 London Olympic Games, representing Canada in the doubles category alongside Bruce. Though their finish in the round-robin part of the women’s tournament was not what they were hoping, the games weren’t over yet.

Two teams of competitors were disqualified that year for the biggest badminton scandal in Olympic history – which put Michelle Li and her doubles partner back in the running for the medal.? They defeated Australia’s women’s doubles duo in the quarterfinals and ended up finishing fourth – the best Canadian finish in Olympic badminton.

She continued competing internationally and filling her cabinet with medals in multiple categories, and dozens of countries.? One of her most notable performances was at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.


Growing up in Canada gave Michelle Li some barriers to compete – mainly the misconception about the sport in North America. The idea that badminton is a backyard sport is prevalent in Canada, just as it is here in the United States.  For Michelle Li, this meant that her road to the top was paved with self-funding and the occasional sub-par training.  She was responsible for organizing itineraries for all of her own tournaments, flights, registrations, and hotel stays.  She often attended tournaments alone, with no coaches or support staff. 

Despite these setbacks, Michelle began claiming titles all over the world.  She’s won titles at multiple senior national tournaments, Pan Am Games, and 1 Commonwealth Games.  At the young age of 18, Li knew that she wanted to compete in the Olympic games.

Through hard work and determination,  her Olympic dreams became a reality.  She competed in both the London 2012 Olympic games and the Rio 2016 Olympic games.

In 2016/2017, Li was focusing on recovering from a lingering injury that required several surgeries.  In 2018, she returned to the court to show the world that her skills were as sharp as ever. She screamed back into the spotlight, defeating Ratchanon Intanok (for the first time) at the All England Open.  Later that year she surprised the badminton world again by defeating Saina Newhal, and in 2019 shocked fans as she took down Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying.  

Current Status

Michelle Li’s notoriety and growing international fame made her a perfect candidate to be one of the BWF?s ambassador’s to their integrity campaign:  I Am Badminton.  As a representative of this campaign, Li has been working hard to attend activities and media events to communicate the message of clean, honest play to the professional (and up-and-coming) badminton community. 

Michelle was set to compete in July 2020 at the Olympics in Tokyo, representing Canada on the court.  The unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic put those plans on hold for her and forced Li (and other players) to spend time at home, out of the competition circuit. Though she’s enjoyed spending time with her family in Canada, Li can’t help but be anxious about what lies ahead regarding the Olympic Games.  Will COVID force another postponement?  Tokyo and the Olympic Committee have confirmed that another delay would constitute a cancellation, crushing the dreams of many athletes, and costing Tokyo billions of dollars.  Li is waiting, and training, and focused on holding the Canadian flag on the podium in the summer of 2021.

Bragging Rights

456 Career Wins
2 Olympic Appearances

2016 Wins

Bronze – Women’s Singles – Yonex US Open
Gold – Women’s Singles – Yonex Canada Open

2017 Wins

Silver – Women’s Singles – Yonex Dutch Open
Silver – Women’s Singles – Yonex US Open
Gold – Women’s Singles – Peru International Challenge

2018 Wins

Gold – Women’s Singles – Macau Open
Bronze – Women’s Singles – Yonex US Open
Gold – Women’s Singles – Pan Am Individual Championships
4th Place – Women’s Singles – Commonwealth Games
Gold – Female Team – Pan Am Team Continental Championships

2019 Wins

Bronze – Women’s Singles – Fuzhou China Open
Gold – Women’s Singles – Macau Open
Bronze – Women’s Singles – Korea Open
Silver – Women’s Singles – Yonex Chinese Taipei Open
Gold – Women’s Singles – Pan Am Games (Lima)
Bronze – Women’s Singles – Diahatsu Yonex Japan Open
Bronze – Women’s Singles – Yonex US Open
Gold – Women’s Singles – XXIII Pan Am Individual Championships

2020 Wins

Bronze – Women’s Singles – Denisa Denmark Open
Gold – Female Team – Male/Female Pan Am Team Continental Championships

Hear it From Michelle!

Michelle has a badminton website where she keeps fans up to date on her thoughts, training, and progress.  By sharing podcasts, interviews, news, and personal blog posts, Michelle has been able to keep an open line of communication with fans and supporters. 

Sources:

Michelle Li Badminton Website
BWF Player Profile
Michelle Li on Facebook

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