Yorkshire’s Marcus Ellis is getting his big boy boots on ahead of the Olympics

Marcus Ellis launches his bid for glory on two fronts at the delayed Yonex All England Championships in Birmingham on Thursday.

England's Marcus Ellis: Teaming up with Lauren Smith.

The Olympic bronze medallist, along with the rest of the field, was due to start play at 2pm on Wednesday. But the competition was held back 24 hours because a number of positive and inconclusive Covid-19 test results from teams needed to be re-run.

A statement from All England Badminton read: “BWF can confirm a small number of positive tests were recorded and in agreement with Public Health England, these cases will be retested. These cases will continue to self-isolate while they are retested. As a result, play will now commence at 2pm Thursday. Badminton England and the BWF continue to implement all testing protocols required by the UK Government and Public Health England to ensure the health and safety of all participants.”

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Ellis has been able to compete regularly since lockdown protocols were eased in the autumn, and he believes that competitive edge will be key leading up to the rearranged Tokyo Olympics.

“You can’t hide from it, you can’t say you won’t compete until we get back to normal,” said Ellis, who competes with Lauren Smith in the mixed doubles and his Rio bronze-medal-winning partner Chris Langridge in the men’s doubles.

“You have to adapt and do it better than anyone else. We’re all in the same boat, everyone who’s qualifying for the Olympics has to operate under these conditions.

“I can’t have a pity party about it, you have to get your big boy boots on and get on with it.

“As far as preparation goes for the Olympics, the more tournaments we can have at this level, it’s really key. Hopefully, by the time the summer comes around, we’ll be firing on all cylinders.”

One of the best weeks of Ellis’s career came at last year’s event – squeezed in before lockdown was imposed – as he and Smith reached the mixed doubles final four.

Ellis is also keen for a long run in the men’s doubles with partner Langridge, though they have yet to recapture the form of old with Langridge in particular seeing his preparations disrupted by injury and court time limited.

“With Chris, we’ve had a topsy-turvy few months,” he said.

“We’ve battled with a couple of injuries and haven’t spent as long on the court together as we’d like, in the training environment. I’m positive that this week will see another set of improvements.”

Following a tough year for everyone, the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships marks the first step in inspiring people to get back on court. For more information for the badminton community, visit https://www.badmintonengland.co.uk/return-to-play/

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