Seven young badminton stars, ages 12 to 13, will be representing Merritt and Zone 2 at the BC Winter Games in Penticton beginning this Thursday, Feb. 25.

The seven (above, left to right) are Allison Moore, Niah Prowal, Rose Howarth, Breanna Ouellet, Megan Dunsmore, Talon Zakall and Drew Kanigan.

All are products of the highly-successful Bench Elementary School badminton program run by teacher Vince Kanigan.

The local athletes qualified for the BC Games at a tryout camp held at the end of November, 2015 in Kelowna.

The seven Merritt qualifiers comprise the majority of the Zone 2 badminton team, including the entire girls’ squad.

Since being named to the Zone 2 team, the Merritt badminton players have attended a zone training camp over the Christmas holidays and practised weekly at the old CMS gymnasium.

The BC Winter Games, along with the BC Summer Games are held every two years in different cities and regions around the province. They are a biennial celebration of sport and community.

Since their inception in 1978, the BC Games have taken place 38 times, and involved over 350,000 participants and volunteers. This will be the fourth time that the city of Penticton has hosted the Games.

They also held the Winter Games in 1990 and the Summer Games in 1978 and 1996. There are projected to be 2,082 athletes, ranging in age from nine to 45 competing in 17 different able-bodied and Special Olympics sports at this year’s BC Winter Games.