By David Grossman

Neil Tai-Pow is a strong believer that good mental preparation is a recipe for success – and he’s been able to prove it in the classroom, in the gym and in his career.

An honors graduate from Upper Canada College, Tai-Pow moved on to study actuarial science and earned a degree, yet again with academic brilliance, intense education and experience, at the University of Western Ontario.

These days, he’s putting his knowledge to good use as an actuarial associate at London Life in the fields of health insurance, investments, mortgages and more.

But before his career path got underway, and like most students, growing up wasn’t all strictly on studies.

He’s a golfer when he has the time and plays some blues, rock and jazz on the guitar for relaxation. Tai-Pow also had an interest in badminton from a young age.

“I was seven years old, and it was at the Granite Club, when I first started to play badminton,” recalls Tai-Pow. “It was different. I had watched others play and thought it would be fun.”

Tai-Pow got hooked on the sport, focused on getting better and went on, while at UCC, to win a pair of medals at the Pan Am Junior Games.

The first one was in 2009 in Puerto Rico, teaming with Stephanie Yeung in the mixed doubles under-17 to claim the bronze. A year later, in the Dominican Republic, partner Andrew Wilkinson and Tai-Pow won silver in the under-19 men’s doubles.

“I remember those events and it was a pretty exhilarating time for me because I was focusing on my grades at UCC and wanted to do well,” says Tai-Pow.

“Playing badminton and winning — both were important to me because I was always a very competitive individual. You’re always looking for ways to get better and improve, and that goes for everything in life too.”

Tai Pow would add to his collection of medals and got the elusive gold – but it came at the Ontario high school provincial playoffs, teaming up with Rachel Honderich for the mixed doubles championship.

Success wasn’t always in the doubles categories, as Tai-Pow claimed four men’s singles titles for UCC at the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association finals.

“The atmosphere at UCC was always great – it was an unforgettable time and gaining friends for life,” he says. “I will always remember how UCC emphasized the values of academic and athletic excellence.”

After UCC, Tai-Pow continued with badminton, playing four seasons while at Western and on teams that won medals each year. For the past two years, he has taken on the responsibilities as head badminton coach at Western.