3 golds, 2 silvers and an eye on training in Montreal for local high schooler
Leaside High School’s Ayanna Badali is on the short track to success.
The 18-year-old senior at the Bayview and Eglinton secondary school is coming off a triumphant run at the National Canadian Age Class Championships March 14–16 in Prince George, B.C., where she won three gold (3000m, 1500m and 500m) and two silver (1000m and relay) medals in five speed skating races.
It’s a big shift from two years ago, when the Town Crier first met up with Badali after she switched from playing hockey for Leaside High School’s girls team after a broken leg had set her back.
“I sometimes miss hockey, because it was so much fun to play,” she said in an interview after returning from the championships.
“But I’m really glad I got into speed skating, because it was perfect for me.”
Badali was calm when she spoke of that next step to perfection.
“I want to hopefully go to Montreal to train, because that’s where a lot of the good training is,” she said. “At the moment, probably try to make it to the regional training centre in Montreal.”
It will take a lot of fundraising to get that training, but Badali’s looking to earn a scholarship to help alleviate her financial concerns.
In the meantime, she’s been accepted to McGill’s Bachelor of Physical and Health Education program.
“The reason why I really like that program is because it had the social side of sports,” she muses. “It’s not just anatomy.”
Denise Makovac-Badali figures her daughter’s life in Montreal will be something to get used to, come August.
“That’s going to be a new reality for us, her living in Quebec, and eventually leaving town.”
The move next year to the Quebec circuit will place Badali in the midst of the highest level of short trackers, and where the national team trains.
Toronto has been a nurturing environment for the young speed skater. As a member of the Toronto Speed Skating Club, she’s been training six days a week for the next stage, and with her along the way has been coach Cameron Boyd.
“She is so committed that we have to watch that she does not over-train,” he said in an email. “Short track speed skating is a very challenging sport. To do well you need speed, skill, strength, endurance, agility, sharp decision making and the ability to manage the pressure of competition.
“She had some ups and downs leading up to the national competition but she put it all together at the right time in Prince George and came out on top!”
Boyd is also a Leaside resident, and it’s been in the small community within a large city that Makovac-Badali has found comfort.
“As a mom, and one of the great things being in the Leaside community, it’s a little pocket of support in a big city. A lot of smalltown communities support their athletes. It’s a nice little springboard to success, in many ways.”