WHEN senior businessman Mike Robinson joked that he could beat badminton legend Gail Emms MBE little did he think he would get the chance.
Mike, who is senior partner at advisors PwC in Midsummer Boulevard, Milton Keynes, had a Business Leaders lunch in fits when he successfully bid £250 for one of Gail’s shirts in a Willen Hospice auction.
Earlier in the evening at the National Badminton Centre, Gail had told the audience one of her biggest bug-bears was people – mainly men – who thought they could beat her.
“It’s mainly male PE teachers who played a bit at school who think they can beat me,” Gail explained to the Citizen last Wednesday as she prepared to nicely but surely wipe the floor with Mike.
As an Olympic silver medallist in Athens 2004, World and Commonwealth champion in 2006, with her doubles partner Nathan Robertson, Gail used to train from 8.30am day after day, month after month to achieve success.
Sometimes she used to sleep at the National Badminton Centre in Bradwell Road to be ready for the next day’s training.
When she’s evangelising on behalf of badminton in schools up and down the country Gail, who still has a killer competitive insinct, has been known to hand out a good beating to chaps who should know better.
It was different with Mike of course, who made his comment in jest. But Gail still made sure she won. The score was 21-4 before they and Mike’s wife, Fiona, who runs Badminton Wycombe, retired to the bar.
After the game Mike said: “It was a real experience to be given the chance to play such a talented player for such a worthwhile cause.
“Who would have known that not only would I successfully bid for Gail’s badminton shirt in the recent auction, but also get the chance to actually play her here in Milton Keynes. It has actually persuaded me to start playing regularly again.”