Medal Hunters to Watch for in Beijing

The Beijing Olympics are only six months away. This means that the Toronto sports fan has some catching up to do with those sports he only cares about every four years. With increased airtime for the Beijing games, you can watch more sports than ever before.

Sure, there are names already known, from Pickering’s Perdita Felicien to teenage Torontonian Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs on the balance beam. But as a service to Toronto’s TV-addicted insomniacs, here are a couple of “lesser sport” names to remember for 2008.

Let’s begin, this week, with the women. Markham’s Fiona McKee plays badminton. Yes, the same badminton you were made to play in high school gym class. At 21 and with a long career ahead, McKee has a shot of someday winning a medal. Olympic badminton is about to be a host-nation favourite for the first time ever, so the small (and kind of silly) sports exposure will be at an all-time high. The 2007 Pan Am Games Doubles Silver Medalist (with Charmaine Reid) has an outside shot at breaking the event’s Asian dominance.

Winning Pan Am Gold in 2007 has put Toronto sniper Avianna Chao on the map in the wonderfully immobile game of sport-shooting. One fun fact about this event is that during the competition, Avianna and her fellow athletes may actually move even less than their couch-potato viewers.

Next week, XYYZ will drop the names of a handful of guy athletes from YYZ competing in Beijing’s darker corners.

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