Badminton Rising

Rob Fullerton has spent 20 years building Ryerson's program, which has attracted a top player in Dayvon Reid. Courtesy Winston Chow, Ryerson Athletic

Rob Fullerton has spent 20 years building Ryerson’s program, which has attracted a top player in Dayvon Reid.
(courtesy Winston Chow, Ryerson Athletics)

The fastest badminton hit in competition is 332 km/h (206 m.p.h.) by Fu Haifeng of China during the 2005 Sudirman Cup, according to the Guinness World Records.

Ryerson student Dayvon Reid cannot hit that hard. But he can hit shots over 200 km/h frequently.

The average distance Reid will cover in a badminton match is six kilometres. His pulse can rise from mid-70s to over 120 and, over the course of the match, he might make between 300 and 400 shots.

Reid is the top male badminton player at Ryerson and, as such, is one of the Rams top athletes. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Reid’s journey has taken him through the junior Pan American Games to top athletic honours at George Brown. Now he’s always considered a theat in tournaments for the Ryerson badminton team.

Last weekend, Reid won the bronze medal in the men’s singles event during Ryerson’s Winter Invitational exhibition tournament.

Despite the high placing, Reid’s coach, Rob Fullerton expected him to be in the finals.

“He was seeded one or two in each of (the events), so I was hoping he would make it further,” said Fullerton.

The most telling part of Reid’s character is that he made it to the semifinals in all three events he entered, the first time a Ryerson player has achieved such a feat.

That determination allowed Reid to immediately take a major role on the team, despite only joining last year.

“He is the team captain and he is a leader in the sense that he is aware of the needs of the athletes around him, and he understands when he needs to bring issues to me, so it’s a good relationship,” said Fullerton.

It is a relationship Fullerton tries to build with each of his athletes, but at Ryerson he has not always had such top-tier talent.

“We quickly realized that you get a real range of athletes,” said Fullerton. “We get a few calls from provincial level players who are interested in studying at Ryerson, but mainly we rely on open tryouts.”

Fullerton has become synonymous with badminton here, having spent 20 years guiding the Ryerson badminton program. He has special ties, having only played competitively after joining Ryerson, much like his open tryout charges.

Dayvon Reid sings at the shuttle during a Ryerson tournament, while Fullerton looks on. Courtesy Winston Chow, Ryerson Athletics

Dayvon Reid sings at the shuttle during a Ryerson tournament, while Fullerton looks on.
(courtesy Winston Chow, Ryerson Athletics)

Reid was different. He joined the Rams for the 2012-13 badminton season, and stamped his name on the program.

He was named an OUA all-star after claiming a bronze medal in both the men’s singles and mixed doubles events. He later advanced to the third round of the mixed doubles competition with partner Vivian Kwok at nationals.

The year before Reid had graduated from George Brown College after winning its athlete of the year honour for two consecutive years and captaining its badminton team.

He wanted to continue his studies and had spoken with Fullerton during tournaments about the possibility of joining Ryerson.

“Dayvon contacted me in March or April of the previous year and we talked about how to get him in,” recalled Fullerton.

“With him, it was pretty straight forward. He is already close to the top of the league in terms of skill level,” said Fullerton.

However, he acknowledges the limited development he could offer to a player of Reid’s calibre.

“In this type of a program it’s very difficult for him to get significantly better. If that was his goal, he would be getting private training probably at a national training centre.”

Development has been about maintaining Reid’s peak level.

For his part, Reid said that coming to Ryerson was more about “being part of a team, competing for my school, and helping other develop.”

It used to be that outside of school, training in badminton could happen only at places like The Boulevard Club on Toronto’s waterfront.

Thanks to the efforts of lifelong badmintoners like Fullerton and strong athletes like Reid, the sport is on the upswing.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on February 12, 2014.

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