European gold – but still no UK funding for Adcock

Jumping for joy: Gabby Adcock of Leeds leaps into the air after she and partner Chris Adcock won the European title in Denmark last weekend, defeating the host nations Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen. Picture: Yohan Nonotte
Jumping for joy: Gabby Adcock of Leeds leaps into the air after she and partner Chris Adcock won the European title in Denmark last weekend, defeating the host nations Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen. Picture: Yohan Nonotte
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IT SPEAKS volumes about British badminton’s current predicament that Leeds smasher Gabby Adcock admits two golds and a silver at the European Championships were “bittersweet”.

England’s most successful Europeans for 29 years comes just five months after UK Sport cut badminton’s funding from £5.9m per Olympic cycle to nothing.

Gabby and Chris Adcock with their European gold medals (PIcture: Yohan Nonotte)

Gabby and Chris Adcock with their European gold medals (PIcture: Yohan Nonotte)

But defiant Adcock says there will be no quelling her sporting dreams with the 26-year-old hoping a hat-trick of notable medals at the Europeans provided UK Sport with a timely wake-up call.

Adcock performed a starring role as part of Britain’s superb success at last weekend’s European Championships in Denmark as the Leeds player took mixed doubles gold alongside her husband Chris, two and a half years after the duo scooped a Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold.

England’s world No 16 Rajiv Ouseph also won the men’s singles title in Kolding while Scotland’s world No 47 Kirsty Gilmour took silver in the women’s singles.

All this comes just months after badminton was deemed not worthy of any funding from UK Sport, when the organisation announced its latest plans in December.

Even though the funding decision is what it is, it doesn’t take away what we all want to achieve and Great Britain doing such an amazing thing at the Europeans, it’s just a bit frustrating to be like ‘come on UK Sport, surely you can see that we’ve got potential’.

Gabby Adcock

Just four months after British pair Chris Langridge and Huddersfield’s Marcus Ellis had won bronze in the men’s doubles at the Rio 2016 Olympics, badminton saw its funding completely wiped out alongside archery, goalball, fencing, powerlifting, table tennis, weightlifting and wheelchair rugby.

All seven sports appealed but only powerlifting was successful, after which Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy said half of the 24-strong squad would have to leave.

But Adcock says there will be absolutely no stopping her quest to now push on for world and Olympic medals alongside her husband – even if UK Sport’s decision left a bitter taste in the mouth.

“It’s kind of a bittersweet time in that obviously we are all quite disappointed with the funding result,” Adcock told The Yorkshire Post. “But we have all come together even stronger as a team and through a difficult time we have shown that we are still able to push on. We still have those dreams and goals that we want to achieve.

Gabby Adcock in action.

Gabby Adcock in action.

“Even though the funding decision is what it is, it doesn’t take away what we all want to achieve and Great Britain doing such an amazing thing at the Europeans, it’s just a bit frustrating to be like ‘come on UK Sport, surely you can see that we’ve got potential’. We are competing with the best in the world.

“When we first found out about the funding cuts we were shocked – to say the least – especially with the boys in Rio winning bronze; we thought that showed we have got a young team with a lot of potential.

“We are all starting to come into our prime. That’s the frustrating thing.

“Things take time to develop and we really felt that we are all coming into our prime now so UK Sport’s decision, it was a very big shock to say the least.

“There’s loads of people out there that do love badminton and that’s why I think everyone was so surprised by the cuts to it.

“Every day when I go to the badminton centre at lunch the courts are fully booked. It’s such a popular fun sport and so accessible for everyone to play.”

But asked if the funding cuts were ever considered a threat to her own career, a defiant Adcock said: “Not for me and Chris.

“I feel like, for us, we are quite an established pair and we are more on the latter stages of our career. What we do worry about is the younger ones, the development of the younger squad and how they are doing.

“They have to find a way now, it’s a real test of their resilience to see how much they want it.

“But for me and Chris it doesn’t effect us massively but obviously every percentage counts and to miss out on weights training, to miss out on psychology and physio that we have lost because of the funding cuts, it’s those things that make a difference.”

In a bid to prevent the negative impact of those differences, Badminton England have set up a new crowdfunding activity, giving the public a chance to invest in the elite squad – which includes Adcock – to give them the best possible chance of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“That can help massively and anything anybody does to help our cause we are hugely appreciative of,” said Adcock.

But while all long term roads will hopefully lead to Tokyo, first and foremost another hugely important assignment will await the world No 7 husband and wife duo this summer.

Adcock explained: “There’s the World Championships in Glasgow coming up in August that’s going to be such a major event for us to be able to play so close to home and I’m sure all the family will be there.

“I’m really looking forward to that because I am really fond of that arena having played at and won our Commonwealth gold there back in 2014.

“I’m super excited about getting back there and playing on that stage and delivering.

“We want to do as well as we can at the World Championships and it’s another dream of mine to become world champion and get a world medal.

“That’s another that I definitely want to tick off on the list of achievements.

“I feel like we are really going in the right direction despite all the tough times that we have had. It’s just credit to Badminton England and all the badminton players how much of a tight unit we are and have been.”

Badminton England’s crowdfunding page can be visited at www.badmintonengland.co.uk/backbadminton