A tough ask for medals at badminton world champs

Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork
Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork

BADMINTON is preparing for its biggest tournament ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

Badminton England, based at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes. is the sport’s governing body in this country.

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It provides a structure for the sport from Board and Council, senior management, specialist staff at headquarters, county associations and clubs right the way through to individual members and volunteers.

Next Monday marks the start of the annual World Championships, which this year take place at Wembley Arena.

But England’s greatest 2011 Badminton World Championship hopefuls will have to do it the hard way if they are to win a medal after being given a low seeding in the competition.

Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork – based at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes – have been named as number 10 seeds in the mixed doubles, meaning they are likely to receive a tough opening round draw in the Yonex BWF World Badminton Championships to take place at Wembley Arena in early August.

The pair are the only home players to be seeded in any of the tournament’s five events, but are considered the country’s best medal prospects. Indeed, Robertson is a former world champion, having won the competition with partner Gail Emms in 2006.

But the strength of the Asian opposition is reflected in the seedings as they dominate all five events, with China’s Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei top seeds in the mixed doubles.

“It’s a shame we’re not in the top eight, but we’ve beaten four of the top 10 pairs already this year,” said Robertson.

“If we can pick up a favourable draw and reach the quarter finals then we can cause problems for the remaining pairs if we play our A Game.

“But we need to avoid the top Chinese and possibly top Danish pairs for as long as possible.”

The pair of Robertson and Wallwork are the only members of the squad to be given a bye into the second round, with the rest of the team handed tough opening round draws. With the London Olympics now less than 12 months away, the World Championships will act as the perfect prelude.

Not only will the tournament take place in London, but in the very same arena penned in to host the sport next July.

And Olympic hopeful Wallwork insisted that the boost she gets from playing at home gives a huge lift to the stars.

“Home support can give you such a boost” she said. “The World Badminton Championships are such a huge event to be held in London and I’m sure it’s going to be a great spectacle at Wembley Arena.

“I absolutely love any tournament we have in England and the atmosphere in Wembley will be fantastic for us and everyone that comes to watch.”

Wallwork’s comments were backed up by Robertson, who said: “I am very excited that the World Badminton Championships are coming to London this summer.

“Wembley Arena will be a great venue. I expect there will be a brilliant atmosphere with the home support possibly being the best any UK player has heard in this country.”

The World Championships start on Monday, August 8 at Wembley Arena. For more information, or for tickets, visit www.badmintonengland.co.uk