It’s funny how things can change quickly in sport. I’m not necessarily talking about things that happen on court, but more so the decisions that are made off it, and how these decisions and opinions of others can drastically affect your aspirations as an athlete. As a result of this, we’ve been on a bit of a funding roller coaster these last 12 months, but our ambitions to succeed at the Tokyo Olympic Games time were given a major boost this week after UK Sport announced it would indeed now fund us as part of their new ‘medal support plan.’
You might remember 12 months ago that UK Sport withdrew all of badminton’s central funding. The sport was pretty much shaken to the core and for some time we, and the whole of the performance squad, were left in the dark as to what this meant for our futures. Whilst this funding cut was serious, (bare in mind it meant that our performance squad was halved overnight), for Gabby and I we knew it would never stop us from trying to realise our Olympic ambitions. It did mean that we had to seriously start to think about things differently….would we need to base ourselves overseas? How would we afford the best possible support team? How could we possibly compete against our peers who had top class support systems at their disposal? There were so many questions, and honestly, not always the answers we wanted to hear.
And so the last 12 months has been a bit of a battle, to fit into this new norm of what being a pro badminton player in GB looked like. Gone were the days of our travelling physio. We lost all the EIS support which included psychology, physio, nutrition, and strength and conditioning. It all went. And so we had to build up our own network of people who’ve been our support team on a part time basis. We’ve had strength and conditioning help for the last two months which has made such a great difference, but before then we were in the gym, drawing down on the knowledge we’d built up over years to effectively pull together our own training programme. There were times when there was no physio on court, or when we’d have to work with the tournament physio who knew nothing about us or who wasn’t even available. Our small badminton community based at the National Badminton Centre had to pull together collectively, we regrouped and we came through it.
And that was basically what we’ve been doing for the last 12 months, and so yesterday’s news that Gabby and I would now benefit from the funding was such a welcome relief. Our sport will receive £630,000 before the Tokyo Olympics. Essentially it will give us the ability to build a support team around us who can help us to actually benefit from our sessions, not just handle them and tick a box to say that yes, we’d completed each session. We’ll be able to get what we need to strive for success without compromise. We want to achieve everything and now we don’t have to worry so much about things. We can just focus on what’s important, and only that will help us reach the podium in Tokyo.
It’s really important that we say a couple of big thank you’s. Firstly to Badminton England for continuing to fight our corner over this past year. And secondly, to UK Sport who have recognised our results and rewarded us for the recent medals we’ve won. This funding will make such a difference to us – it represents the difference between managing and striving. You know all that talk about marginal gains, well it really does matter, and we intend to show the sporting world exactly the kind of difference this kind of support can make, starting at our comeback tournament, and right the way through to Tokyo 2020.
Thank you again UK Sport. Your support means so much.
Chris (and Gabby).
(Photo credit: Badminton Photo)