We lived in a small village in the UK countryside and had a very quiet time. Everyone in the village knew each other and it was a very close community brought together by the local school. My parents have lived in the village ever since they were married.
Tryst with Badminton
I first saw badminton at the local village hall. It only had one court with little space around the court and a low ceiling. We used plastic shuttles and had no idea there were other kinds of shuttles. One of my primary school teachers thought I had good coordination skills with bat and ball and suggested I play badminton. After I won the Commonwealth Games gold, the village put a photograph of me up in the hall where it surprisingly still remains.
That I wasn’t very good at it! I remember trying to serve and I missed it six times. We used to go to watch badminton exhibitions of the best European players playing the top English players. When I first saw badminton on TV I was like wow, these people are so good.
Relationship with Badminton
I am so grateful to have picked up the sport as it has brought me many opportunities to meet people from all around the world and it has taken me to many countries. It has been great through the good times and challenging through the more difficult times such as injuries but these moments make you stronger.
My first Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur (1998), my first time at a multi-sport event. The English women’s team won a gold and I won an individual bronze medal. My first Olympic Games in 2004 was definitely memorable as I beat former silver medallist (Camilla Martin) in the second round. Lastly, winning an individual gold in my third Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
I’m happy to have met so many people through the sport. Many coaches have played a part in my career. I have taken something from all of them. The characters within the sport make it enjoyable.
What Badminton Means
Badminton of course means a lot to me. If it wasn’t for badminton I wouldn’t be working on the other side of the world from where I was born and raised. Badminton has brought me many fantastic opportunities. Travel, sampling different cultures, multi-sport events, meeting different people from around the world. Yes, I have had to work hard for some of those experiences, but I wouldn’t ever change that. I am so grateful to the sport for bringing me this.
What Makes Badminton Different
I think the badminton community is pretty special as they get along well and work with each other to make the sport better.
Developing Badminton in the Community
I almost burst with joy when I see a child’s reaction to having hit a shuttle for the first time after trying so hard. Also, when they leave the session and you overhear them say “Badminton is so much fun”. The downside is that unless someone steps up to continue badminton in the smaller places, that could be the last badminton they have for a while.
Impact of Shuttle Time
Allowing people who weren’t that familiar with the sport to have an introduction to badminton. Everyone and anyone can have success with this programme.