We spoke to both Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith ahead of their Birmingham 2022 campaign.
Having come away with silver in the mixed doubles four years ago, they will be looking to go one better at the National Exhibition Centre in Solihull.
Here both Marcus and Lauren reflect on their respective experiences with the Commonwealth Games and how they want to lead by example in Birmingham.
My first Commonwealth memory;
“I went to Manchester, in 2002 and we had tickets to watch the badminton.
“I just remember back then I had a little autograph book that I used to go and get people to sign.
“So I had the signatures kids that age would normally have – Disney characters and stuff like that.
“But I took it around all the players, and every Team England player signed it and they were all really nice.
“I went up to Clarky (Anthony Clark) and he went one step further and actually took a photo of me and the team. He signed the back of it, which meant a lot.
“Somewhere at home that picture is still in a little frame somewhere that was a hugely inspiring moment for me.
“I realised that I want to be that person. I can’t remember the matches I watched but that moment was huge for me.”
“I remember watching not just badminton but loads of different sports at the Commonwealths on TV.
“That is what I love most about the multi-sport events. You can turn the television on at any time of the day for two weeks or so and will see sport.
“It might not be a sport you’ve ever watched before, but you’ll see the best in the world at it. I think that is hugely inspiring.
“The Games shining the limelight on badminton when I was younger also really helped me in those early stages of playing.”
What I’ve learnt from previous Commonwealth Games;
“You learn so much from these multi-sport events. How to cope with the schedule, how to cope with the environment.
“You learn about what you need to do to get the best out of yourself. It is so different to a normal tournament and you need to be aware of not getting carried away with everything else that goes on at a Games.
“Something as the simple as the food been a huge buffet. When you’re new to it you could easily fill your plate, but then you learn to stay on top of how you’re fuelling.
We asked @LaurenE_Smith 🏴 what inspired her to pick up a 🏸 racket.#WorldBadmintonDay pic.twitter.com/eco0DfLyXu
— BWF (@bwfmedia) June 27, 2022
“You just need to get that rest and recovery balance right.
“That was a big thing for me in Glasgow, my first time and I was on court a lot going deep in the women’s doubles and mixed team event. It was non-stop.
“Hopefully as this is our third Games we can use that experience to our advantage.
“I definitely think the multi-sport team environment brings the best out of me as a player.
“That added team environment, with all these other sports brings an extra excitement and I think that contributes to better performances from us both.”
On the 2018 Gold Coast Games;
“It was my second so I had some idea of what to expect after Glasgow. Although it feels mad that it was already four years ago!
“To come away with three medals, you can’t really have too many complaints whatever competition it is, let alone a Commonwealth Games.”
“I didn’t know if that was going to be the only Commonwealth Games I was going to go to.
“I felt I had missed out a bit on the one before in Glasgow and there were no guarantees I was still going to be playing now.
“I felt it was one of my only opportunities to add Commonwealth medals to my collection.
“The mixed team event was crucial, that got us off to a really great start, although I think we could have gone further, but under the circumstances we were just happy to get a medal.
“In both doubles events we had a fantastic tournament with some fantastic wins.
“But to be honest come the finals day I was completely exhausted. I almost had nothing left and was just happy to get over the finish line with medals.
“It was by far the hardest I’ve had to work physically at a competition before.”
On helping the younger Team England players in Birmingham;
“We’ve had a lot of changes in the team over the last cycle and all of a sudden we are the most experienced in the squad.
“I’ll be there for anyone who wants any help. The team is young but also very, very capable of producing world class results so I feel quite positive about it.”
“It is about not getting overwhelmed and finding that balance. But those playing their first Commonwealth Games still need to enjoy it.
“And they will be able to perform at their best when they aren’t feeling too much pressure.
“So Marcus and I will try and lead by example a little bit. We’ll try and give the team everything we’ve learnt over the years.
“If teammates want a bit of guidance they can always talk to us. I hope that it is a great experience for every member of the team and the first of many for a few of them.”
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