London: Olympic silver medallist Gail Emms is relishing the chance to return to the court for this weekend’s English National Badminton Championships although she admits it will be a case of mind over matter as she bids for mixed doubles success.
Emms claimed mixed doubles silver at Athens 2004 alongside partner Nathan Robertson before announcing her retirement four years later after the Games in Beijing.
The 37-year-old was back in action at last year’s English Championships though, reaching the quarter-finals in both the women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
And the mother-of-two admits the allure of the Championships and the chance to add to her 12 national titles had drawn her in once again.
“I do love badminton and do wish I could play more so that’s the biggest reason why I wanted to come back,” she said.
“We have the National Badminton League now but there are no other tournaments really for me to go and play.
“I am a mum with two kids so I can’t just go and play anywhere, if it’s my job then it’s fine but it’s not, my job is being a mum so that’s why it’s the Nationals or nothing really.
“Call it craziness, madness, stupidity, all of those things. My main fear is that I don’t want to embarrass myself. My main focus is just to hit that shuttle back over the net.
“My preparation has been mainly in my head, using the experience I have gained over the years.”
This year marks a decade since Emms and Robertson topped the mixed doubles world rankings.
She will team up with 2011 European junior champion Matthew Nottingham for the Championships, held in Crawley, and Emms admits she will be relying on her partner to help her out.
“I am seriously regretting now because, obliviously badminton has been a massive part of my life for so long in my head I go ‘yeah I can still do it’ and then my body goes ‘hang on a second, you’re 37 years old and you’re retired and you don’t do any training’ and all these things,” she added.
“I think we have got a shortage of girls and there’s a guy called Matt Nottingham who is my partner and he’s really good, but he hasn’t got a partner.
“So I am helping him out as well. But he’s got to do a lot of running around me so I don’t know if I am helping him out in anyway.”