Emms faces tough draw against Chinese pair in Beijing
HERTS badminton ace Gail Emms has a tough draw in the Olympic Games. County star Emms and mixed doubles partner Nathan Robertson won silver in Athens Olympics four years ago. However, the British pair must face Chinese duo Zheng Bo and Gao Ling in the fir
HERTS badminton ace Gail Emms has a tough draw in the Olympic Games.
County star Emms and mixed doubles partner Nathan Robertson won silver in Athens Olympics four years ago.
However, the British pair must face Chinese duo Zheng Bo and Gao Ling in the first round in Beijing.
Great Britain head coach Ian Wright has high hopes for both of Team GB's mixed doubles pairs during the Olympics. However, both partnerships will have to overcome difficult opponents from the host country in round one.
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"Ideally we wouldn't have wanted the Chinese in the first round," admitted Wright.
"However, if our players can win their opening games then the door is wide open for us."
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It is unlikely that meeting Athens silver medallists Emms and Robertson, or European champions Donna Kellogg and Anthony Clark, will provide the straightforward opening matches the Chinese pairs would have been hoping for either.
Despite this, it is the British pairs that will enter as underdogs, as Hitchin-born Emms and Robertson lost four times to second seeds Zheng Bo and Gao Ling in 2007 and Kellogg and Clark have never beaten the joint third seeds He Hanbin and Yu Zang.
However, the Team GB pairs will use the resilience they have drawn from years of experience to prevent statistics from denting their quest for Olympic glory. Recent domestic rivalry can only have elevated performance levels, and this will be heightened now that Robertson is fully recovered from ankle surgery.
Partner Emms, who was coached at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield by the Goode family as a youngster, said: "Nathan is playing better than the whole of the last 18 months put together."
Although potentially on opposite sides of the net in the mixed doubles, Emms and Kellogg, who partnered Tewin's Jo Goode at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, will combine in the women's doubles.
Again, they will face a tough task in round one, with the world number two pairing of Zhang Jiewen and Wei Yili drawn against them.
This will provide Team GB with another opportunity to deny China the chance to reach their target of winning all five badminton golds medals.
The badminton competition takes place from August 9-17 at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium.