Pressure on Adcocks as Olympic medal expectations grow

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Olympic silver medallist Gail Emms admits the pressure is on for husband and wife duo Chris and Gabby Adcock at Rio 2016, with a medal now the expectation rather than simple wishful thinking.

Great Britain’s Olympic badminton record isn’t exactly something to write home about, with Jo Goode and Simon Archer’s mixed doubles bronze at Sydney 2000 and Emms and Nathan Robertson’s silver four years later the only two medals in the collection.

In fact, at London 2012 no British player escaped their group, with Chris Adcock pairing up with Imogen Bankier in the capital.

Since then Chris has joined forced with wife Gabby, and the pair haven’t looked back and now sit seventh in the world rankings.

The pair signed off from 2015 by becoming the first Brits to win the Dubai World Superseries Finals, while in March they fell agonisingly short of a first ever final spot in the prestigious YONEX All England.

And while these victories are reason to celebrate, Emms insists it also means more is expected of the husband and wife team at Rio 2016 this summer.

“I think we are going to be more nervous than anything else now in the British badminton scene because there is a realistic chance of a medal,” said Emms, who was also crowned World, European and double Commonwealth Games champion during an illustrious international career.

“The mixed doubles in the last year has been really topsy-turvy and anyone in the top eight could win it and that includes Chris and Gabby.

“A year ago I probably would have said not they will not win the competition but now you never know because it has been like that in the last year.

“All of the people involved with British badminton are going to be nervous because if they don’t win a medal then it could affect the funding so it is like a carrot is being dangled.

“Before we had a very outside chance whereas now it is like ‘hmmm we have an outside chance’ and there is expectation.

“Everyone is going to be excited for it because it is the Olympics but the fact they could win a medal means it is more nerve-wracking now.

“The end-of-year Dubai tournament is like a celebratory event of what has happened and Chris and Gabby went into it not seeded and in a really tough group.

“Then they took their chance and said ‘let’s do it’ and they did. They were relaxed about it and the fact they did it is a massive confidence boost and it shows what they can possibly do.”

Whenever an Olympic Games rolls around, thoughts harp back to Emms and Robertson’s heroics in Athens.

More than a decade has passed by since then, but 38-year-old Emms acknowledges that the Adcocks could follow in her footsteps.

“The Adcocks are the best medal chance we have had since I was playing,” Emms added.

“Chris and Imogen Bankier could have done better than they did at London 2012 but Chris and Gabby now have more experience and are the best medal chance we have in badminton.

“The strength of badminton in this country was evident when I played against a couple of 16-year-olds in training recently and I thought it was going to be easy and in the end on the following day I had to ply myself with lots of Ibuprofen because they made me work so hard.

“So whatever happens the future is certainly brighter and I am excited about what could happen.”

Support your local teams and badminton stars in their bid for title glory at the AJ Bell National Badminton Finals Day – The Ultimate Smashdown on Sunday 8 May at the Barclaycard Arena. For tickets and information, visit www.nationalbadmintonleague.co.uk