Stettler upstart John Langford made the most of a return to his native Saskatchewan this month for the Aboriginal national badminton championships.
“I was happy,” said Langford, 15. “I thought I did well.”
It was Langford’s second Aboriginal nationals in three years, and he arrived home from Saskatoon last week with multiple doubles championships in the under-16 and under-19 categories.
“The first year I went to Aboriginal nationals, it was pretty difficult, but this year, there wasn’t quite as many people and I saw a lot of the same faces that I saw the first year, so I kind of knew what to expect.
“Playing the U19 and senior (events), though, there was a lot more competition and it was pretty difficult.”
Langford, a standout at the school and junior levels in Alberta, was born in La Ronge, Sask., where he was the New Year’s baby in 1998. His part Metis ancestry qualified him for the Aboriginal championships.
“To register, you just need to show proof that you’re Aboriginal,” said Langford, who lived in La Ronge for two years.
“It’s just nice to go back (to Saskatchewan). There were a few people from La Ronge there, so it was nice to meet and talk with them a bit.”
Langford was in under-14 competition two years ago when he competed in the inaugural Aboriginal nationals. He didn’t participate last year because he was attending a high-performance camp in Olds at the time.
“There were some pretty good players there, and others who were all right,” Langford said of this month’s Saskatoon tournament at Walter Murray Collegiate high school.
“It’s nice to go to a national event and actually win some things. It’s a boost of confidence and gets me ready for the next year. I just get that much more excited.”
Langford packed plenty of badminton into the weeklong tournament. Paired with Saskatchewan partners, he was a doubles champion in boys and mixed events at both the under-16 and under-19 levels. He was also a semi-finalist in senior singles play.
“I had actually dropped out of U16 singles, because I sprained my (right) wrist, and I just wanted to play senior singles so that I could just get it over with,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I could have done a lot better in singles, for the senior group, if I wasn’t hurt.
“The first day at nationals, we don’t compete — we do a training program. I guess I overdid it the first day, and the other days, (my wrist) was kind of starting to hurt more and more.”
Langford played soccer with Stettler’s under-16 boys, but he wasn’t available when they hosted the provincial championship, because it conflicted with his badminton nationals. He had sprained knee and ankle ligaments while playing with Stettler’s under-18 soccer team, but recovered in time for the badminton nationals.
Langford, almost six feet, is going into Grade 10 at William E. Hay Composite High School. He finished his junior high badminton run this spring with a third straight CWAJHAA singles title. In the final, he beat a familiar face in Stettler clubmate Ryland Stefanik of Big Valley.