Beres real travellin' man

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:51 PM ET

Mike Beres is on the road again. Only this time, the trail is thankfully a little shorter. The Ottawa badminton player, who endured a 22-country odyssey to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics with mixed doubles partner Jody Patrick, has his sights set on a new goal with a new partner.

New event, too.

Beres and Calgary-based Will Milroy, fresh off a Canadian championship in men's doubles, are in Los Angeles for an international tournament this weekend. It's the next step in their quest to qualify for the world championships in nearby Anaheim in August.

"We're doing a lot of travelling internationally to get a world ranking," said Beres, 31, before jetting off to L.A. "We need (a minimum of) 10 international tournaments to qualify, and we've only done six."

That means a three-week stay in Europe later this month for tourneys in Croatia, England and Switzerland. But Beres and Millroy are getting closer to the top-64 ranking they need to reach the worlds. They're at No. 67 now and Beres believes that at their current pace, they'll get where they need to be after the four more necessary tourneys are played.

AIMING FOR AUSTRALIA

The duo is also in good shape for its long-term goal -- the Commonwealth Games in Australia in March 2006. Beres and Millroy are Canada's No. 1-ranked doubles team and figure to stay there over the next year.

They cemented that position with their triumph at the nationals in Montreal, though Beres said it wasn't a cakewalk.

"We were the No. 1 seed going in," he said. "Everyone was gunning for us, so there was a lot of pressure.

"We almost (lost) in the semi-finals ... It wasn't as comfortable as I would have liked."

They breathed a little easier in the final, sweeping Quebec's Philippe Bourret and Jean-Philippe Goyette 15-7, 15-4.

That made two national titles for players from the RA Centre, one of three national training centres for badminton. In men's singles, Ottawa's Andrew Dabeka won his fourth national crown. He outlasted Calgary's Bob Millroy 10-15, 15-2, 15-4 in the title match.

Oddly, all of Dabeka's titles have come in odd-numbered years -- 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005.

Beres and Patrick lost in the mixed doubles quarter-finals, but haven't played nearly as much this year. That's because Patrick is in her first year of medical school at the University of Alberta and can't spare the travel time.

School is also very much in for Beres, who's on course to graduate from the University of Ottawa with a degree in finance in April. The badminton travel and his studies aren't always an ideal mix.

"It's a hard balance," he said. "But you can make the best of it if you're disciplined."

So far, so good on both counts.

GYM DANDY: Athens Olympian Melanie Banville of the Ottawa Gymnastics Club will represent Canada at a team competition connected to the prestigious American Cup, which runs Feb. 25-27 in Long Island, N.Y. OGC coach Tobie Gorman will head up the five-gymnast team against competitors from the U.S., Mexico and Brazil ... OGC athletes brought home 75 medals from the second provincial qualifying meet, held last weekend in Kingston. Overall champions included Nicole Malizia, Tyro 1; Courtney Ferguson, Novice 2; Shawnee Flagg, Novice 3; Quyen Vuong, Open 3, and Kayla Davis, Open 4.

CONTINENTAL CHAMPS: Teen speed-skating sensation Ivanie Blondin of the Gloucester Concordes dominated the junior women's field at the North American long-track championships in Sault Ste. Marie. Blondin won all four races in her class -- 500, 1,000, 1,500 and 3,000 metres -- in claiming the overall title. She set a provincial record in her 3,000 win. Connor Elliott of the Ottawa Pacers matched Blondin's efforts with a sweep of all four midget boys' races (300, 500, 600 and 800 metres).

PADDLE POWER: Six local paddlers represented Canada at the world freestyle kayak championships in Sydney at the end of January. Ottawa's Paul Danks struck gold in men's open canoe, while Beachburg's Billy Harris grabbed the silver medal in men's kayak. Ruth Gordon earned a top-10 finish in women's kayak, while Joel and Katie Kowalski made the top 10 in junior events.

AROUND THE AMATEUR SCENE: Two Ottawa under-13 sides lost tight semi-final decisions at the Ontario Indoor Cup soccer finals in Vaughan. The Ottawa Capital United boys were edged by the Brampton East Chiefs 2-1 on penalty kicks, while the Gloucester Emerald girls were blanked by the Ajax Storm 2-0 ... Nepean's Lisa Blackburn won a bronze medal Friday in the women's 100-metre breaststroke at a World Cup short-course swim meet in East Meadow, N.Y.

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


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