Badminton England Stars talk to Ged Noonan

“A shuttlecock moves faster than a F1 car”

That piece of information was passed onto me by badminton aces Gabby and Chris Adcock. They, along with other members of the England squad kindly spent some time out from their practice sessions for the forthcoming YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships that take place in
Birmingham during March this year, to speak to TheSportFeed

Milton Keynes. England. 5, February, 2019. England Badminton team players at a media day ahead of the forthcoming Yonex All England Badminton tournament in March 2019. Pictured left Gabby Adcock & Chris Adcock. The event will be held in Birmingham © Ged Noonan/ Alamy Live News

GN: “How are your preparations going?”

Rajiv Ouseph. “We had the Nationals at the weekend. We’ve got a good
level of match practice and good level of tournament, so yeah hopefully we
can carry that on. So, it’s going all right,”

Ben Lane “Preparation is going well for the All England. We’ve just back from Asia and we had three tournaments so we’ve had lots of matches recently and lots of club matches.”

GN: “With such a full calendar, how do you avoid injuries?

Rajiv: “Yeah you’re very rarely 100% fit but that’s just the nature of our sport I think. It’s pretty (much) all year around. Like you’re travelling a lot. For me I was travelling over New Year. I flew out on the twenty sixth of December and only got back on the twentieth of Jan. For me, because I’m slightly older so I can be a bit more selective in what I’m doing.”.

Ben: “I think when you’re training full time you will always have niggles and little injuries, but it’s just trying to work with your physio and your strength coaches to try and control them as much as possible.”

Chloe Birch: “I think I’ve played to a discipline for a long time now, so I’ve
kinda know how to manage my body. I know what I need to do or what I don’t need to do. I’ve kinda learnt that over the last couple of years when I did get a couple of niggles and I got quite tired and stuff like that.

Whereas I think now we’ve come up with a couple of strategies that we know what we need to do when I come off and prepare for the next game.”

The relationship between players and the coaches is crucial to the
development plan, not just in terms of developing ones technique, but in terms of planning out an itinerary of tournaments that will best support a player’s future progress.

GN: “For a target such as the Olympics can you target which events you
play in to get to your peak?”

Rajiv: “I think you can, a little bit more in my position. (Rajiv is ranked
number 1 for England). But because our calendar in the last year or eighteen months has gotten even busier, if you wanted to you could play 30-35 tournaments a year. I probably won’t be doing that.”

Ben: “We sit down with our coaches and then decide what tournaments to
play in and when to have a few days off and have a holiday because you
definitely need to go away for recharging“
Chloe Birch: “We have a plan up to September as to what we’re playing,
what we’re doing, what the aim is, and in the next few weeks we’ll carry that on.”

That plan would not be set in stone though with the players able to review it and possibly add in another tournament or drop out of one as necessary
For married couple Gabby & Chris Adcock, there’s a slightly different element to their planning. Whilst they have a plan in place up to August, being ranked in the worlds top 10 means that there will be some contractual obligations and competitions that they need to take part in
With the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, no doubt Gabby and Chris will be
looking to go one better than silver medallists Nathan Robertson and Gail
, who managed their great feat in Athens, 2004

After the 2016 Olympics, UK Sport withdrew its financial backing from the
sport, a decision that saw a number of players having to drop out form
pursuing a playing career. Since then, a run of positive performances, has
seen an element of the funding stream reinstated SF “With so much touring and expenditure, where can you get the financial support?

Rajiv: “The association has a little bit of money which they help us out you
know, giving us some help, but it’s getting more and more to the stage where you have to invest in yourself a little bit. The flip side of that is that the prize money at the higher end of the tournaments is going up quite quickly”

YONEX are one of the main sponsors for the players, but aside from
Badminton England providing support for training, most players will have to tap into other sources of income to keep them in the sport they obviously love. This is not a road to riches so, whilst it may seem nice to be able to travel to exotic places, the reality of the situation is that it requires a great deal of dedication and hard work.

Most of these players recently spent time away from the typical New Year
celebrations in order to prepare for and take part in a tournament in Asia

GN “With so many competing sports such as football, tennis etc. how
would they entice in the next generation in?”

Chloe: “I think the great thing about badminton is that anyone can do it. It’s
one of them sports that you don’t need to be a set size or certain shape.
There are so many things, the technical, the tactical, the skill level, all come
into play. Anyone can play at it and anyone can thrive in it.”

Chris Adcock: ”You don’t get freezing cold in the winter! It’s one of the few
sports that professionally is mixed. It’s a really fun sport and really social.”
A lot of the current players have had familial influences that have led to where they are now. In Chloe’s case, here entrance into the sport was from playing in church halls; Ben’s aunt was ranked 19 in the world at badminton, and others talk about how older siblings would rope them into a game.

Milton Keynes. England. 5, February, 2019. England Badminton team players at a media day ahead of the forthcoming Yonex All England Badminton tournament in March 2019. Pictured left Gabby Adcock & Chris Adcock. The event will be held in Birmingham © Ged Noonan/ Alamy Live News

All the team are looking forward to the YONEX All England Championships that will take place in Birmingham between the 6th and 10th March.

Chloe: “Playing at home will always give you that extra 1-2%. At world class
badminton, such fine margins between winning and losing and having that
crowd behind you really, really, helps. It’s a great place to play and it’s nice
not having to get on a flight. It’s great to have friends to come and watch. I’m really looking forward to it”

Words & Images – Ged Noonan –