Olympic star relishing Bath international contest

12 October 2009

England’s Olympic badminton star Nathan Robertson is convinced that an enthusiastic crowd will give the national team the lift it needs in Bath against a strong Japanese line-up next week (Friday 16 September at 6.45pm) in a preview of what he hopes will be the impact of a home Games in 2012.

“We don’t get enough opportunity to play in England in front of a home crowd”, said the Athens Olympic silver medallist about the Badminton England International Match which is taking place at the University of Bath’s Sports Training Village.

“I really love it. It’s fantastic to play at home and to hear everyone supporting you.  It gives me a real lift”, said the 32 year-old doubles specialist who is also a Commonwealth Games gold medallist.  “The home crowd will be important in 2012 and matches like this will help the players get used to it”.

“I’m also really looking forward to coming to Bath to play. Badminton has a High Performance Centre in Bath and there are strong links with our sport”,  he added.

Robertson is convinced that England will have to play well on the night to repeat their last victory over Japan.  “We don’t know exactly what line-up we will face until the day of the match but Japan are bringing their strongest squad.  We expect to be challenged”.

England, too, is playing a full-strength team in the five-match format, mirroring the Sudirman Cup, the world team championships, in which England beat Japan 4-1 to stay in the top world group last May.

That match, and the victory over Japan, holds special memories for Robertson who reached his 100th cap during the encounter in May.  “It was a great day for me, very special”, he said. “I have fantastic memories of it and I’m looking forward to playing them again”.

In Friday’s match there will be a men’s and women’s singles match; a men’s and women’s doubles match and a mixed doubles match.

Robertson is playing men’s doubles with Anthony Clark but since last year when his Olympic partner Gail Emms retired, he has been developing a new partnership with Jenny Wallwork – daughter of former international Brian Wallwork.

Robertson is also convinced that these kind of internationals offer England’s players the chance to develop.  “It’s very important to us in the lead-up to 2012 because we don’t get much opportunity to play at home in front of home crowds.  That can put different demands on players.  It can also bring pressure for some players”.

The Japan squad, who will train at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes before the matches in the build-up to the Denmark and French Opens in late October, will be led by former England National coach Park Joo Bong, the former world and Olympic men’s doubles champion and former world mixed doubles champion.

Pete Bush, Head Badminton Coach at the University of Bath, said: “This is a terrific opportunity for badminton fans to see some of the best players in the country in action in Bath. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to host the first international match of this two-match series against Japan and we’re also pleased that England have selected such a strong squad, with four of Britain’s Beijing 2008 Olympians due to play in Bath.”

Colin Whaley, Sales & Marketing Director at Center Parcs, said: “Everyone at Center Parcs is very much looking forward to the two forthcoming Japan internationals and it will be great to see some of our England stars, such as Nathan and Anthony, performing on home soil. We are very proud to be a partner of Team England and we wish the whole team the very best of luck.”

The matches will be played under the five-match Sudirman Cup format of men’s and women’s singles and doubles and one mixed.

Tickets will be £12 adults, £10 Badminton England members and £6 concessions – under-16s, OAPs and students.

Tickets are on sale now – see the Badminton England website for booking details.

Tickets are also available by contacting 01225 384213, from the Sports Training Village reception or from the TeamBath store

Team England:
Men’s singles: Andrew Smith (Hants, age 25, 32 caps). World ranking 28.
Women’s singles: Elizabeth Cann (Jersey, age 30, 27 caps). subject to fitness. World ranking: 38.
Men’s doubles: Anthony Clark (Notts, age 31, 91 caps) & Nathan Robertson (Notts, age 32, 100 caps). World ranking: 10
Women’s doubles: Donna Kellogg (Derby, age 31, 87 caps) & Jenny Wallwork (Yorks, age 22, caps 20). World ranking: –
Mixed doubles: Clark & Kellogg (World ranking: 12) and Robertson & Wallwork (World ranking: 32).

Coaches: Pete Jeffrey, Julian Robertson.

*World ranking in the September 24 list

Japan squad:
Men: Kenta Kazuno, Kenichi Hayakawa, Noriyasu Hirata, Hirokatsu Hashimoto, Kenichi Tago and Sho Sasaki. Women: Mizuki Fujii, Reika Kakiiwa, Shizuka Matsuo, Mami Naito, Eriko Hirose and Ai Goto.

Team manager: Park Joo Bong. Coaches: Fumihiko Machida, Keita Masuda.

The England v Japan badminton match comes at the end of an outstanding week of sport at the University of Bath. The Sports Training Village hosts two top international netball matches earlier in the week – against world champions Australia on Tuesday 13 October and against Commonwealth champions New Zealand on Thursday 15 October.

The University of Bath has one of the leading university sports departments in the UK. Under its TeamBath brand, its success is based on the expertise and dedication of staff, and its excellent facilities, used by the community and Olympic medal winners alike.

Members of the media who require further information can contact the TeamBath Press Office at Matchtight Ltd on (01225) 383518 or 01225 443998 or see the TeamBath website at www.teambath.com

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