Mixed doubles badminton champion Nathan Robertson, who won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, counts down to next year’s London Games and the chance to take home the coveted gold medal.
With less than 17 months to go until the 2012 London Olympics, it’s certainly more than just a distant thought for myself and the rest of the badminton world. Everything that happens from now until the Olympics is an important stepping stone in preparation for the biggest stage of all and the title that every badminton player dreams about winning – Olympic Gold.
This week’s All England Championships in Birmingham feels like the start of a string of big events even though it’s before the 1 May start date of the Olympic qualifying period. The prestige and history of the All England make it the stand out tournament by far in the Super Series yearly programme. Having won this title back in 2005 with Gail Emms, I know exactly how it feels to win here in Birmingham and what it means to everyone. A repeat success with new partner Jenny Wallwork would be unlikely but not impossible; strong home support and that extra 5-10 per cent of adrenaline that home players have means anything is possible!
Following the All England, we have the Swiss Open in Basel the week after and then some downtime when I’m jetting off to Antigua in the Caribbean for nine days holiday. Time to give the body a rest – it doesn’t get any easier keeping up with these younger players!
The big event for us in 2011 will definitely be the World Championships held on home soil at Wembley Arena in London. Playing in the same arena that the Olympic tournament will be held in is a great chance to get a sense of how it will feel 12 months later at the Games. It will be my final chance for another World Championship medal as I will not be around for the 2013 Championships, as hopefully I’ll be happily retired.
So a big period for myself and this crazy sport I’ve been a professional in for 17 years now. Hoping for a big end-of-career finale and then on to a less physically taxing lifestyle.
Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork begin their All England Championships campaign at 15.15 GMT on 9 March. Follow their progress on the tournament website. Find out more about players, tournaments and English Olympic hopefuls from Badminton England.
Photo by Nigel Farrow. All rights reserved.