England’s badminton players put their funding troubles behind them to enjoy golden success at the 2017 European Championships, writes Emma Eveleigh.
The Championships, held in Kolding, Denmark, couldn’t have come at a better time for Loughton-based Badminton England following UK Sport’s decision to withdraw all funding for the GB Badminton World Class Performance Programme earlier this year.
Ever the professionals, the team from the National Badminton Centre arrived with their eyes on the top prize and by the end of the week were celebrating after winning two gold medals and a bronze.
England’s number one men’s singles player Rajiv Ouseph (above), who lives in MK, kicked off the gold rush with a 21-19 21-19 victory over Denmark’s Anders Antonsen.
Not only was he the first Englishman to become European champion for 27 years but he also got married the following week to round off a perfect month!
He said: “Everyone has put a lot of hard work into training and trying to turn around the situation.
“The best thing about the week for me was how consistent I was. I was injured at the beginning of the year and only played three or four tournaments so getting a few wins and being consistent for a full week was great.
“The week as a whole – everything just clicked for me.”
In the mixed doubles, Chris and Gabby Adcock (above), who also live in MK, overcame top seeds Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen on their home soil.
It was a mammoth 78-minute battle but the English duo claimed the crown, 21-17 18-21 21-19.
Gabby said: “It’s something as an athlete you want to be – European champion – so it’s one of the achievements we can now tick off the list.
“We are so happy at the minute and so excited for the year to come as well.”
Chris added: “We have achieved something really good and that can help Badminton England. Hopefully younger generations will see this and think they can do the same.”
There was also a bronze medal for women’s doubles pairing Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker.
Badminton England is asking the public to #backbadminton by investing in the elite squad to give them the best possible chance of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Visit http://www.badmintonengland.co.uk/backbadminton
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