Few of us realize or understand the preparation and training required to compete in world-class badminton. Helen Nichol does. She competed in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Growing up in Burlington, Helen participated in many sports as she was an active, energetic youngster. She was an avid swimmer. She played public and high school sports, plus house league soccer, tennis, and avidly competed in gymnastics. She won a bronze medal in the vault at provincial championships. At M.M. Robinson High School, Helen was a multi-sport athlete for all five years. She played basketball, volleyball, tennis, badminton. She was named M.M. Robinson Athlete of the Year in 1998, and again in 2000; the Burlington Spectator Athlete of the Year, in 1998 and 2000; Rotary Medalist for M.M. Robinson for leadership and academics. At 14 years of age, she was introduced to badminton at the L.B. Pearson Community Badminton Club and loved it. In her very first competition, she lost badly. Helen does not like to lose. So she pursued elite coaching and joined the Brantford Badminton Club. This required her to drive to Brantford three times per week. Pairing with the young woman who had defeated Helen in her first match, they entered a host of competitions provincially and nationally, winning regularly. Helen received a Presidents Scholarship to the University of Guelph but before enrolling she was pursued by Badminton Canada, urging her to join the national training program in Calgary Alberta. No more scholarship. She graduated from U of C in five years while training vigorously to raise her game. In 2004 Helen learned she had qualified to compete in the Athens Olympic Games. Here is a list of just some of her achievements:
Provincial Championships Ontario
1997 – Under 16 Ladies Doubles Champion
1999, 2000 - Under 19 ladies Doubles Champion
2000 – Mixed Doubles Champion

National Championships
1999, 2000, 2005, 2006 – Ladies Doubles Champion
2005 – Mixed Doubles - Silver
Pan American Games
2001, 2003, 2005 – Ladies Doubles - Gold
Commonwealth Games
2006 – Ladies Doubles – Quarterfinals
Olympic Games
2004 – Ladies Doubles – Lost to China in a single-elimination draw

In order to qualify for the Olympic Team, an athlete must have a world ranking. To achieve this status Helen mostly self-funded entry into competitions in over 25 countries around the world. Helen Nichol’s determination, perseverance, and commitment to her sport provide a model for all aspiring young athletes. We welcome her into the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame.