Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gade in Denmark Squad as England prepare for Euro bid

TEAM ENGLAND today learned that they will have to overcome Denmark at their strongest if they are to win the European Team Badminton Championship at the Echo Arena Liverpool from February 10-15.

With just under two weeks to go to the start of the Championship, all 32 competing nations submitted their squads to Badminton Europe today.

And after weeks of speculation about the Denmark line-up, former BADMINTON England Performance Director Finn Traerup Hansen, who is now Denmark’s head coach, has relented and named his strongest possible squad – including singles stars Peter Gade and Tine Rasmussen.

Gade is the man in form having just won the Korean Open Super Series men’s singles title while Rasmussen is the 2008 Yonex All England women’s singles champion as well as this month’s Korea Open winner. The Danish team, who are holders, 12-times winners and top seeds, have named 18 players in their squad although Traerup may well hold back his big guns until the knockout stages.

Team England were among the first to name their squad at the start of this month and team manager Ian Wright can draw on the experience of new European mixed doubles champions Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg as well as the men’s doubles partnership of Clark and Nathan Robertson, who reached the Malaysian Open semi-finals in early January. Those three players have nearly more than 250 international appearances between them.

In contrast Liverpool’s Helen Davies is the rookie in the team, having been selected after making a winning debut against Poland in Warsaw in December.

Fourth seeds Poland or fifth seeds Holland are Team England’s likely semi-final opponents if the second seeds and former champions (1978 and 1984) come through Group 8 to earn their place in the knockout quarter-finals. There they are expected to face eighth seeds Ukraine.

Poland have named world No.9 Przemyslaw Wacha and doubles specialists Michel Logosz, Robert Mateusiak and Kamila Augustyn in their line-up while the Dutch have also named their strongest squad with Eric Pang and Dicky Palyama for men’s singles and 2002 European champion Yao Jie and Judith Meulendijks for women’s singles.

Third seeds Germany are Denmark’s likely semi-final opponents and their strength lies in the women’s events where they can call on 2006 and 2008 European champion Xu Huaiwen or Juliane Schenk to play both singles and doubles if necessary.

England start their campaign in the evening session (6pm) on Tuesday, February 10 against the Czech Republic before facing Wales on the Wednesday and Scotland on the Thursday evening.

The Scotland squad includes Jillie Cooper, who recently won the Bank of Scotland International and Yonex Welsh International women’s doubles titles with England squad member Mariana Agathangelou while Super Series Masters mixed doubles finalists Imogen Bankier and Edinburgh-born England player Robert Blair are also in opposing camps

When Wales and Scotland meet on the opening night it will bring Andrew Bowman up against Martyn Lewis in the doubles. The pair won the Welsh International men’s doubles together in November.

A total of 410 players representing a total of 32 nations were confirmed today and can be viewed on

BADMINTON England Chief Executive Adrian Christy said: “It’s great for the fans that Denmark have named players like Peter Gade in their squad and I am delighted to see such a top-quality entry for the Team Championship. It will whet the appetite for the Individual Championship when it comes to Manchester in April next year.

“But first we want to get behind Team England. The home fans can play a vital part if England are to end that 25-year wait for another team title.”

The groups competing over the first three days of the European Team Championship (with seeding in brackets) are:


Denmark (1) France (7) Germany (3) Russia (6)
Spain Cyprus Slovakia Latvia
Slovenia Portugal Estonia Norway
Ireland Switzerland Sweden Belarus


Netherlands (5) Poland (4) Ukraine (8) England (2)
Austria Finland Italy Czech Republic
Israel Lithuania Hungary Wales
Belgium Bulgaria Iceland Scotland

Final positions in the 2008 European Team Championship:
1 Denmark, 2 England, 3 Poland, 4 Netherlands, 5 Germany, 6 Russia, 7 France, 8 Ukraine, 9 Scotland, 10 Bulgaria,11 Sweden, 12 Czech Republic, 13 Iceland, 14 Finland, 15 Ireland, 16 Estonia.

Denmark have won the last seven European titles and 12 in all since the competition began in 1972. England have been the champion nation five times but have not struck gold since the 1984 Europeans in Preston – the last time the event was staged in England.

Sweden are the only other nation to have been champions (1992 and 1994) and they are in Group 3 with third seeds Germany, Slovakia and Estonia.

It is the first time the European Team Championship has not been played concurrently with the European Individual Championships. Instead, Manchester’s MEN Arena will host the European Individual Championship in April 2010.