‘Practising in our garden in MK has kept us in shape for the badminton world stage!’

Team GB Olympic badminton star and 2019 European champion Lauren Smith, who lives locally with her doubles partner Marcus Ellis, writes an exclusive column for Celebrate:MK.

Here she talks lockdown, funny looks from neighbours, TikTok, cooking, what she loves about MK, plus getting back on court at the National Badminton Centre in Loughton, and more!

When I moved to Milton Keynes back in 2012 to train at the National Badminton Centre, little did I know that I would end up falling in love with the place.

I’ve only recently bought my own home in MK and I’m very proud to call it home. I’m originally from Carlisle in Cumbria so I’m quite outdoorsy, and one of the things I love about MK is all the green space there is.

It’s something you would maybe not expect from the concrete cow city until you’ve lived here, and I love all the lakes, parks and canals to go for a walk and relax outside.

But as someone who usually travels over half the year, lockdown was a huge lifestyle shift – as it was for most. Not to mention not being able to step foot on a badminton court for 3 months when the longest break I’ve had in the last 10 years was 2 weeks!

From playing twice a day I was suddenly limited to footwork on the street, weights with paint pots and
badminton in the garden.

I soon learnt to ignore my neighbours’ funny looks and that shuttlecocks and a light breeze do not go hand in hand!

As soon as I realised it wasn’t going to be a short term thing I tried to view being home as an opportunity, changing my focus from all the things I couldn’t do to what I could.

Things like giving the garden some much needed TLC, having some fun with different types of exercise, mastering TikTok and even making sourdough.

On reflection my garden looks great, hiit training was a nice change but ‘fun’ is a stretch, I blame cabin fever for the TikTok embarrassment and I can now say on good authority that I can not make sourdough!

Even the birds couldn’t stomach those bricks. But overall I stayed pretty motivated and positive, something I’d attribute to the resilience developed over the years in professional sport.

Of course I had days where my motivation was lacking, like the day the Tokyo Olympics was postponed
(that was a real bummer).

But it was completely the right decision and wallowing wasn’t going to gain anything so I cracked on and kept jumping around in the street.

I’m also lucky that I live with my doubles partner, Marcus, so on days when I was lacking some drive he
was there to help, and vice versa! For us, having some schedule and routine was a big help.

We managed to get back into the National Badminton Centre in June, with a lot of safety measures in place.

There were less players in the hall, no touching each other’s shuttlecocks (that’s not an innuendo!) and a lot of hand gel.

As I write this we are about to head off to Denmark for an actual tournament, and I’m really excited to get back to competing.

Who knows what the rest of 2020, and beyond, has in store for us all but there’s plenty we can take from
this experience.

Firstly, not taking for granted how good ‘normal’ life is and, secondly, remembering that we got through it, because we’re all tougher than we think.

You can follow Lauren’s life and professional badminton exploits on her Instagram at @lozzaz123

This feature was published in the November 2020 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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