It hardly seems real that we won one of our most prestigious titles to date a little shy of four years ago when we won gold at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. In many ways, it feels just like yesterday. Chris and I often find ourselves reminiscing about that day – not just for the memories, but we also use it as a motivation booster and confidence driver knowing that we can beat anyone when we play our best.
Back then, everywhere you looked, you could feel the excitement of the Games. There was an air of confidence, competence and pride and the whole event was outstanding. The sport was top class, the organisation was flawless and the atmosphere was electric. Being part of a multisport event, as we were as well back in Delhi 2010 which was our first Commonwealth Games experience, it’s just this incredible feeling of being part of something very special and is always something that we really look forward to.
For us, Glasgow 2014 underlined how incredibly relevant the Commonwealth Games are. In some sports in can be as difficult to win a medal at the Commonwealths as it is at the World Championships or the Olympic Games. In badminton, we are missing some of the big nations like China, Indonesia and Denmark, but with opposition like India and Malaysia, the competition is still world class. Don’t listen to anybody who tells you the Commonwealth Games are not that important nowadays, because they are, and not just in terms of the competition and medals, but for the legacy they leave behind and the inspirational power they wield over the generation of sports stars.
So fast forward four years, and we’re about to dust off our passports (it’s been a while!!) and head out to Australia’s Gold Coast where we’ll compete for Team England in the tournament which starts on 4th April. I’ll admit it……I’m fluctuating between nerves and excitement but there’s nothing quite like hard work to help get you where you want to be in life. And for me, that’s back on the podium, singing our national anthem with another gold medal around our necks.
We went into the Glasgow Games as top seeds, and this year’s a bit different. We just don’t know what we’ll be seeded yet as we haven’t been playing tournaments lately because of my injury. I genuinely feel like although we’re defending champions, the pressure is off, which is an entirely different position from Glasgow where we were playing in front of a home crowd in the final and there was a level of expectation. Would we be happy with silver, or a bronze? Well, at this stage, no. We’re going for gold. We fly out on 27 March and will have a week to acclimatise. Unfortunately for us, there is simply no time during the Games to go out and watch other sports as in week one it’s the team event, and week two sees our individual events take place. It’ll be interesting to see what Oz makes of badminton. I’m not aware of it being a massive sport out there, but we all know that Australians are sports fanatics, and I’m quite sure that they’ll put on a show to rival, if not better Glasgow.
As for practice, well for those of you who follow me on social media you’ll know that the rehab is going well, although we’re not quite there yet. Rest assured, I’ll be fighting fit for the Gold Coast though, and nothing makes me happier or more motivated than the thought of donning my country’s uniform and getting back to winning ways. I’ll continue to update you all on our social channels, so make sure you follow us for all the latest updates.
(Photo credit: Badminton Photo)