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Olympian preaches the power of dreams

Charmaine Reid says dreams really do come true, but you have to work hard to achieve them.

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Charmaine Reid says dreams really do come true, but you have to work hard to achieve them.

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The former Canadian Olympic badminton player spoke Thursday to students at Rosedale Public School about setting goals and aiming high.

“When I started dreaming about going to the Olympics was probably in Grade 3, just listening to O Canada,” she said in an interview. “(I) always had that big goal and dream of wanting to be an Olympian.”

The Fort Erie native competed in women’s singles and doubles at the 2004 Athens Games.

She won one gold medal and four silver on three trips to the Pan Am Games. She competed 10 times at the world championships.

“Anything you put your mind to, you want to practise and try to reach that goal,” Reid said. “That’s what I try to demonstrate in these schools.”

She encourages students to be active, too.

“There’s a lot of kids that are not as active anymore, so (they need) that one hour a day of some kind of physical activity, whether it’s running, biking, or playing hockey or badminton – anything just to get moving,” she said.

Reid urges kids to try new activities.

“Especially if someone asks you to try something different, even if you’re scared or nervous,” she said. “Always take that opportunity and try your best.

“I wasn’t the best badminton player when I was on the national team. I was the worst. … I had potential and I always tried, … and then of course you practise and get better, so that put me on the national team. And then I proved that with practice you can reach those goals and dreams.

“Eventually that’s what happened in 2004 when I qualified for the Olympic Games.”

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When Reid was still a touring player, she’d go to schools around the world – she competed in 59 countries – and share her passion for the sport.

Now she visits schools across southern Ontario with her S’Cool Mission presentation. She shows off her badminton skills and brings students on the court with her.

“All the hands go up when I ask for volunteers, which is amazing,” she said. “Some maybe haven’t even been exposed to badminton before, but they all want to try.”

As part of her visit, Rosedale received rackets, goggles, shuttlecocks and a net from the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program.

Reid tells students to give badminton a shot. Even if they swing and miss, at least they’re playing.

“If you don’t try, you’ll never hit it,” she said.

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