Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bumper entry for English Nationals at Velodrome

THE sixth English National Badminton Championships to be staged at the Velodrome in SportCity Manchester has once again pulled in a bumper, top-class entry.

All five titles will be defended by 2008 winners between January 30-February 1 with new European mixed doubles champions Anthony Clark (Notts) and Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire) both bidding to retain their two doubles titles.

The pair are aiming for a third successive mixed doubles title while Clark is going for an eighth consecutive men’s doubles title as he defends his crown with his friend, Nathan Robertson (Notts).

Former world champion and 2004 Olympic silver medallist Robertson is sure to be a threat in the mixed with new partner Jenny Wallwork (Yorks), following Gail Emms’ retirement. But Clark and Robertson will be out to make it five men’s doubles titles together having also won in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Kellogg is bidding to retain the women’s doubles title with a third different partner in a row. She won her third consecutive title with Emms two years ago, took the title last year with Tracey Hallam when Emms was unwell, and will this year bid for glory with Suzanne Rayappan of Hertfordshire. Kellogg has seven women’s doubles titles to her name, having won her first title back in 1998 with 2000 Olympic mixed bronze medallist Jo Goode.

In the men’s singles Rajiv Ouseph will defend the title he won for the first time last year – and 2002 winner Mark Constable (Jersey) is the only former champion in the line-up following the retirement of past winners Nick Kidd and Aamir Ghaffar.

In the women’s singles Jersey’s Elizabeth Cann, who is up to No 28 in the world, will be bidding for her fourth title, having won in 2005, 2007 and 2008. She is the only woman in the draw to have won the title.

A record £12,000 prize fund is on offer at the 2009 Championships and a total of 149 players (97 men and 52 women) from as far away as Northumberland, Guernsey and Jersey have entered.

Among the surprise mixed doubles entries are former champions Nick Ponting and Julie Bradbury. Ponting (Gloucs) was a men’s doubles winner as far back as 1991 while Bradbury won the women’s singles that year and is the last player to have won three different titles, having won three women’s doubles titles with Gill Clark and Jo Goode (twice) and mixed doubles with Simon Archer. Nine-times men’s doubles winner Archer is back for another shot this year with Herfordshire’s Victor Liew.

Among the younger entries, Hampshire teenager Panuga Riou is the rising star in the women’s singles while in the doubles events former world junior silver medallists Gabby White (Yorks) and Chris Adcock (Notts) will be out to challenge for the doubles and mixed titles. White partners Wallwork in women’s doubles while Adcock teams up with former champion Robert Blair (Leics) in men’s doubles.

The English National Championships are being staged at the Velodrome thanks to the special partnership between BADMINTON England, Manchester City Council, Carlton, badminton retailers www.sportsdiscount.com and specialist building validation company Imperial Consultants, with invaluable support from the Manchester Evening News.

Cllr Mike Amesbury, Manchester City Council's Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, said: "We are very pleased to welcome back the English National Badminton Championships to Manchester in 2009 as part of our exciting calendar of sporting events and are looking forward to seeing the high level of sports competition that the players bring to the city.”

2008 Champions:
Men’s singles: Rajiv Ouseph (Middx)
Women’s singles: Elizabeth Cann (Jersey)
Men’s doubles: Anthony Clark & Nathan Robertson (Notts)
Women’s doubles: Tracey Hallam (Staffs) & Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire)
Mixed doubles: Anthony Clark (Notts) & Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire)