Fauteux athlete shuttles off to Para Panam Games

Faculty of Law - Common Law Section
Student life
Athletics and recreation

By Common Law

Communication, Faculty of Law

A woman holds a badminton racket and stands on a badminton court
Congratulations to Olivia Meier, who won a bronze medal in women’s Para badminton from the Parapan Am Games in Santiago on November 25th. This is her third medal and her second Parapan Am Games.

November 2.

A little birdie is sending a member of the Fauteux family to the Parapan Am Games in Santiago, Chile.  

Olivia Meier, a 2L from Winnipeg, will be representing Canada in both singles and mixed doubles with her partner Pascal Lapointe from Montreal.

With a career high of 7th in the world, she is currently ranked No. 22 in the women's SL4 singles category.

“I believe that my experience as a high-performance athlete has helped mold me into the student I am today,” she says.

“It takes balance, dedication and sacrifice to achieve the personal goals you want to attain, both on the court and in the classroom. Studying law requires a tremendous amount of dedication and sacrifice, much like the training that is necessary to compete internationally. I think sport has made me accustomed to dedicating time and focus to my goals which in turn helped prepared me to study law.”

She says part of training as an athlete involves receiving feedback from coaches.

“Whether it be good or constructive, it is offered to help me improve. Receiving feedback from professors is no different. While some students may get discouraged from receiving feedback, because of sport, I am very comfortable receiving it and make every effort to apply what I have learned.”

Olivia is no stranger to international competition.

She competed at her first major Games in 2019 at the Parapan Ams in Lima. She combined forces with Lapointe for gold in mixed doubles and won silver in women’s singles. At those Games, she competed in the SU5 classification, which is a lesser impairment category, as hers was not included in the competition.

In September 2021, Meier became the first Canadian athlete to ever compete in Para badminton at a Paralympic Games, as the sport made its debut at Tokyo 2020.  

A woman is playing badminton on a green court. The court is marked Tokyo 2020

She admits it has been difficult balancing sport and academics. During her first year she didn’t compete in any international tournaments.

“It did feel very odd not traveling internationally for tournaments as I had been throughout my undergraduate degree, but I felt it was a necessary step preparing me for my future career in law.

“Although I didn’t travel internationally, I was a member of the uOttawa Badminton team. With many of the team members, I was able to organize drills and match play a few times a week. Keeping up with on-court practices as well as off-court training, I have been able to remain competition ready.”

Olivia says she has really enjoyed her law studies and so far has a wide variety of interests.

“However, over the past few years I have developed an interest in advocacy and accessibility. From my own personal experiences, I understand the importance and value that an advocate can make on one’s life. I think this might have played a part in me seeking to study law.”

In 1L she said she found studying Disability Law and Social Justice particularly interesting and it introduced her to the legal foundations behind an individual’s rights, including the interconnection between different areas of the law. Her second-year courses also have a human rights focus.

Meier has a disability called hemiparesis. A right-side weakness in both her upper and lower body qualifies her for Para badminton

A woman swings a badminton bat. There are practice courts in the background

She began playing badminton at age eight out of the Winnipeg Winter Club, and started competing at age ten.

She says she can’t really serve like an able-bodied player, so she was taught to hold the bird differently, and at times her footwork is slightly different.   

Para badminton classifications are available for athletes who compete standing with upper or lower limb impairments as well as short stature athletes, and those who compete in a wheelchair.

Para badminton competition at the Parapan Am Games will take place November 22-26 and include men's and women's singles and doubles and mixed doubles. The tournament counts towards rankings points in the qualification race for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

“Sport has given me amazing opportunities to travel internationally, including South America, Europe and Asia, meet people from all over the world and experience different cultures. I am proud to have represented Canada on the world’s biggest stage, and also to have joined different committees and organizations promoting equity and inclusion through sport.”

"It is a huge honour to represent your country at the Parapan Am Games, and I see all of the dedication and effort they have been putting in to reach this pinnacle,” said Josh Vander Vies, co-chef de mission of the Santiago 2023 Canadian Parapan Am Team.

Added Karolina Wisniewska, co-chef de mission. "Para badminton is still a fairly new sport on the Parapan Am and Paralympic program, and I know it has been developing so much in Canada over the past few years. I can't wait to witness it in person and cheer on these incredibly talented and hard working athletes."