Chris Langridge Voices Disappointment on Badminton England Move to Select Ben Lane/Sean Vendy for Tokyo Olympics

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Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis (L) win the 2020 Denmark Open men's doubles title. (photo: BWF)
Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis (L) win the 2020 Denmark Open men's doubles title. (photo: BWF)

Kuala Lumpur: The World No. 11 men’s doubles player, Chris Langridge on Monday expressed disappointment about the Badminton England’s decision to replace him and Marcus Ellis with Ben Lane/Sean Vendy for the GB Olympic team.

On Facebook, Langridge wrote:

“My side of things…* In my own words *
* The 7th of June, 21 is the day I found out I had been deselected for the Olympics. I use the word deselected because myself and Marcus Ellis were the only pair from Team GB that qualified for the Olympics in men’s doubles – for anyone else to go in this category, we would need our place to be rejected.

Other players have, over the last few weeks, spoken out about the toxic and unsupportive environment at the centre. I too have felt saddened and failed by this organisation, there have been many times at the centre when I haven’t been coached as I was not deemed a top player, even after some of the results I have achieved.

Whilst I am grateful to be able to play a sport I love and compete at a highest level, I have also been given some incredibly hard challenges over the last 16 years, most of them I have managed to overcome through perseverance and sheer determination.

I was removed from the badminton programme in my early 20’s with no justification, when other players with exactly the same results as mine remained fully funded.

After a year of low level training and extreme financial constraints, my results spoke for themselves and meant that the association had to reverse their decision, which they did begrudgingly, I was put back on to funding. This is very unusual and only one player before me had managed to achieve this.
Winning Bronze at the Rio Olympics was the highlight of my career and to achieve this whilst not being a fully funded athlete was an even greater achievement. I was told at the time I was too old to be a fully funded athlete. Despite overachieving the target given to us by UK Sport, we lost the funding. It later transpired that the application that the association made was flawed and could have been stronger, this was a factor in the controversial decision by UK Sport.

Before I continue, I would like to address I have no hard feelings towards the pair chosen to attend the Olympics. I voice my thoughts as an issue regarding the trust, control and lack of respect I and others have received from the people with control and power at the National Badminton Centre.
***
Olympic Selection
When I received the email deselecting us from the Olympics, Instantly I felt my heart stop. I received no information justifying their decision. Instantly, I called the performance director to ask for clarification, he confirmed I would receive this within 24 hours. It was 4 days before I received the final unredacted notes.

Going into the appeal Marcus and I were fully aware that it was almost impossible to win due to the nature of the process, not because we didn’t have a strong case. Unlike a court case, the association have to clearly disregard the correct protocol for an appeal to be successful. They have to make a big mistake, if it’s borderline, an appeal will never be won and that’s why we very rarely hear about them.
Our appeal was successful!

Analysis from the independent appeal panel concluded that the selection criteria wasn’t followed properly, the data that the selection panel used was inconsistent and flawed and found a perception of bias to be evident. GB badminton were therefore urged to go through the selection process again and to satisfy the requirement against the perception of bias, a new selection panel should be reconstituted.
Our lawyers instantly emailed the chair of the selection process who was the former chief executive and CEO of badminton England to enquire who the new panel would be. A number of emails were then exchanged, none of which addressed the most important question – who will the new voting panel be.
One hour after the new selection meeting had started, which was 3 days later than the first email being sent, our lawyers were informed by the chair that the same 3 panellists would be voting. This is surprising, considering there had previously been a perception of bias. The data that was used for the second selection was produced by these 3 members and analysed in a way that supported their original decision.

Unsurprisingly, the decision was the same, as human nature would dictate, a new way will be found to come to the same conclusion.

After reviewing the analysis, Marcus and I made the decision to submit a second appeal as we continued to see flaws within the data/information supplied. 36 hours later, a second appeal was submitted.

We only had 36 hours and not 72 hours due to Badminton GB informing us the team needed to be finalised on the 25th of June, not the 5th of July which it clearly states on the BWF website. It is worth noting that Badminton England could have asked for an extension to allow the hearing/appeal to be conducted in a fair manor – but I understand they chose not to do so.

Aware of the tight timescales, we supplied Badminton GB with 8 suggestions for a new panel made up of those who had or were currently working within badminton GB. The vast majority of these had also competed at elite level of badminton and could be deemed experts in their field. This request was flat out denied, again with no reason given. I still can’t understand why a new panel using their own data wasn’t allowed?
Any professional athlete will agree with me that your coaches are there to support, guide and develop you as an athlete. In order to gain that vital competitive advantage over your opponents you turn to your coaches for this guidance.

Part of this process that continues to resonate badly with me, is how one coach advised Marcus and I (on numerous occasions) not to participate in one tournament. We were told that playing this would not be advantageous for us. Trusting this feedback – we didn’t play. Later we found out that Win-loss data was used as part of the selection process and having played this tournament our data within this area of the criteria would have been significantly stronger.

What I am confused by, is that we believe this coach shared this advice with other players about Marcus and I, yet within the first hearing he denied making this statement. In the second hearing, his statement changed to him not remembering these discussions!

I have been a full time player at the national centre for 16 years – ranked 11 in the world, the current European games gold medallist, the commonwealth games gold medallist, Olympic games bronze medallist and European championship bronze medallist, yet since the 7th June I have received zero communication from the head coach or performance director. Is this behaviour normal or acceptable from an elite association?
I don’t write this in the hope of people feeling sorry for me, I write this for the future of our sport in our country. I truly hope things can be done so many other young players do not go through what I have suffered throughout my career.

The frustration I have for how the selection process was concluded is something I will learn to live with. I am truly saddened that this is how my career for a sport I love so passionately and have given so much for could end.

I want to end with a massive thank you to every partner I have had over the years, each one of you helped to mould me in a different and unique way.

Marcus, we quite literally created some miracles during our partnership! Thank you for everything. 👊”

This player selection ordeal for the GB Olympic team could also mean that Chris Langridge’s illustrious career in England which spanned more than 16 years has come to an end.

BadmintonPlanet.com would like to wish Chris Langridge success in his future endeavors!!

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