An enthusiastic and versatile athlete, Ken Poole had a stellar 30-year career in junior and senior men’s badminton. Poole started playing badminton at age 11, when Sandy Allen came to his elementary school and introduced the kids to the sport. Allen took six or eight kids for his program, including Poole. Poole was successful in badminton in junior high and decided to pursue the sport at a higher level even though he played football in high school as well.
A good tennis player under coach Bob Piers, Poole had to choose again when he arrived at Dalhousie University in 1981. Tennis or badminton? He chose badminton and won Maritime under 19 boys’ singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, plus AUS men’s singles and doubles titles. Poole then transferred to the University of Toronto in 1982 to continue his studies and have better badminton competition. The national team was training there, but by the end of that year, the training centre closed along with a club owned by Badminton Canada, and thus there were no players to play against. Poole decided to go to Calgary, where a high-performance badminton training centre had been established by the Canadian Badminton Association. In 1983, he played with the Nova Scotia Canada Games team that finished fifth while personally remaining undefeated in singles and doubles at the Games.
After finishing university in Calgary, Poole started winning at badminton – consistently. Known for his exceptionally calm composure,
Poole also had the perfect combination of speed and quick reflexes, as well as strategy.
Through 1984, Poole and doubles partner Bob MacDougall won championships, beat a Chinese team, ranked second in the world, and won the Canadian title over the defending champions. Poole was the first badminton player from Nova Scotia to ever win a national badminton championship, and he remains the only Nova Scotian to win a National Badminton Championship in an open age category.
In 1986, Poole won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. He then became a member of Canada’s national team and, as he moved into his mid-30s, entered Masters competitions and dominated singles and doubles categories for several years. At a tournament in 1991, he won the Browns Open Men’s Singles, defeating Wen Wang of China en route. Wang had been undefeated for two years.
He has also given back to the sport. He was full-time badminton professional at a Calgary club for 18 years, was assistant coach and manager of Badminton Canada’s national training centre from 1990 to 1995, coached the Canadian team at Worlds in 1995, and was president of the Canadian Badminton Coaches Association from 1992 to 1999.
Piers says Poole “ended up doing more in badminton than any other Nova Scotian had ever done.”
Now living in Calgary with his wife, Heather, a former badminton junior champion, Poole is a stay-at-home dad with his children, Carson, and Lena, while also helping to run local cultural events.
• AUAA mens singles and mixed doubles titles (1981)
• Canadian National Doubles Champion (1984)
• Canadian Mixed Doubles champion (1985)
• US Open singles finalist, doubles semi-finalist
• Commonwealth Games silver-medalist, team event
• US Open 35+ mens singles & doubles champion (’98)
• Three-time Canadian 35+ mens doubles champion
• Badminton professional at Calgary’s Glencoe Club