London 2012 Olympics: GB badminton play down Games medal chances (pic)
Written by Badminton News
Tuesday, 17 May 2011 11:09
British badminton's new performance director has admitted that winning medals for Team GB at London 2012 is a "tough ask".
Jens Grill was last week handed the task of driving Great Britain's team – a mix of experience and youth – towards the Olympics after Andy Wood quit his post in December.
The Dane, who has twice worked for Badminton England in coaching roles over the last decade, takes over after last year's poor showing at the All England Championships, where there were no home seeded players for the first time in the competition's history.
Badminton England has been heavily criticised for recent performances and, following several high-profile retirements, doubles specialist Anthony Wood claimed Britain had fallen behind in the sport.
However Grill told Telegraph Sport: "I think that was a very a strong statement. There are always going to be ups and downs.
"We can't expect to get top players every year and a superstar doesn't come through like that. Even in Denmark that doesn't happen.
"There is clearly a gap between those who have won medals in the past and those we are looking at to win tournaments in the future. But we now have some younger players who are not too far away from that."
Those players include Rajiv Ouseph, ranked 19 in the world for men's singles, and women's doubles specialist Gabby White. Both have come through the national set-up.
Grill, who will not travel to next week's Sudirman Cup in China with England's 13-strong squad, said: "We have so much potential in the players and they are now breaking through on a world level.
"Rajiv is clearly approaching the top players, is a great prospect and has another 10 years in the game. Then there are the likes of Gabby White, who is making significant strides towards being world-class.
"It is very promising but to deliver in 2012 is a tough ask."
Wood's resignation in December forced Badminton England to issue a strongly worded statement, denying unrest and hitting back at critics after claims of infighting within the organisation.
As a result, the national governing body took their time to finalise Grill's appointment, following an internal review conducted by the Great Britain World Class Performance Programme.
Grill, though, believes that the doubters can be silenced with success at the top level. "What I will enjoy are these first few months when no one will attack me," he said. "No doubt I will be making decisions down the line that will not be popular and where I will be criticised. It comes with the job and people might not always agree.
"Hopefully we produce enough results and win the medals."