Gail Emms – My Olympic year (pic)


British badminton star Gail Emms won an Olympic silver medal with mixed doubles partner Nathan Robertson at the 2004 Games in Athens.

Over the coming months on 606, the 30-year-old will be providing an insight into her preparations for the Bejing Games later this year. Image
It’s been an eventful start to the year – but I’ve spent most of the last month on the sidelines!

After getting to the last four at the Malaysian Open, me and Nathan Robertson came off court thinking we should have won our last match and the tournament.

We’d beaten our opponents before, but they had a bit of luck when they needed it.

On the night of the semi-final, I suddenly got this massive headache – I just thought I was a bit tired, emotional and a bit dehydrated from playing.

But the next day I woke up, and I couldn’t move my head or my neck – even just talking hurt my head so much.

It was my ladies’ partner Donna Kellogg’s birthday on the Sunday and we’d planned to do so much, but in the end I had to stay in bed!

We travelled to Korea for our next tournament that night – I was sick on the flight and I never even made it to practice.

It was viral meningitis, but I’ve no idea how I caught it and the hospital in Korea said they couldn’t do anything about it.

So there was no point in playing – I went back to my hotel and they sent me home the next day.

The worst thing was we had a glorious draw in the mixed in Korea, but my partner Nathan came home with me and he looked after me so well, carrying my bags, checking I was alright.

I don’t expect a clean-sweep by the far Eastern countries in Beijing

I tried to milk it, but you can only push him so far before he tells you to go away!

My illness ruled me out of the English Nationals in Manchester as well – any other year I might have battled through, but with the Olympics getting closer, it could’ve knocked me back another month and it’s not worth the risk.

On my first day back in training, I did some light weights and I looked in the mirror and said: “My thigh muscles have gone! (see picture seven!) Where are they?” It’s great because my skinny jeans fit brilliantly now, but I need to get a bit more strength back.

It’s important I’m fit for the All England Open in March – it’s the most prestigious tournament for badminton, it’s like our Wimbledon.

You always want to win in front of your home crowd, especially this year as it’ll be my last All England.

The fans have got more vocal over the last few years as well because Nathan and I have won it and Anthony Clarke and Donna Kellogg got to the final last year, so they’ve had someone to support.

We get sellout crowds from the quarter-finals onwards and they’re really passionate – in the quiet moments, I’ve even had a marriage proposal: “Gail, will you marry me?” from some 12-year-old or something!

My boyfriend Ed comes to see me in Birmingham, but it is a bit bizarre for him, watching people come up to me asking for autographs or pictures – he just thinks it’s funny, but then he loves the star treatment he gets with his VIP pass!

A few of you asked some questions after my last update

To Endland lad: Yes, our schedule is different in Olympic year…it’s the only time we’ll have three months’ preparation before one tournament – the most we normally have is 2-3 weeks!

To Droitrob: No, I don’t expect a clean-sweep by the far Eastern countries in Beijing. I think the Olympic Games is one of those amazing events where anything can happen – you see favourites buckle and underdogs shine.

In terms of air quality, the only thing that can affect us is the air-conditioning…its power can alter the flight of the shuttlecock, and its temperature too – i.e. if the air is too cold it goes slower, and if it’s too hot it goes quicker.

To Roversmaniac91: I do about two hours’ practice in the morning, two hours of physical in the afternoon and another hour of practice after that…

Speaking of which, I should get back to it. Come and support me at the All England in Birmingham (5th-9th March) if you can!

Gail Emms was talking to BBC Sport's David Garrido


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here