THE eyes of the badminton world will be on London next week for the start of the 2011 Yonex BWF World Championships, and Milton Keynes’ crop of England stars will be hoping it’s their year to shine.
Based at the National Badminton Centre in Loughton, the country’s top 19 players will take on the best from around the globe in singles, doubles and mixed doubles games to determine who will be the world champions in each field.
The World Championships are contested every 12 months, except for in an Olympic year, and the 2011 competition has taken on an extra significance – not just because it’s less than a year to go before London 2012, but because Wembley Arena is also the venue for the Olympic badminton competition.
The mixed double pair of Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork are generally considered the country’s best medal hope in a tournament dominated by players from Asia, particularly China and Singapore.
However, it’s a Malaysian duo that Robertson and Wallwork must beat first to stand a chance of success. The Commonwealth Games silver medallists and 10th seeds have a first-round bye but then face a likely tie against Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh, who have caused them problems in the past.
Rajiv Ouseph, who won silver at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last year, is another of the country’s best medal hopes. He was unseeded and will tackle Peter Gade in the first round of the men’s singles. But the omens are not particularly good for Ouseph who has never taken a game off the Dane in six matches.
The action begins on Monday and will see more than 250 matches played over six days.