All eyes on England's future for badminton star Smith ahead of Birmingham run

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·2-min read
All eyes on England's future for badminton star Smith ahead of Birmingham run
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Badminton star Lauren Smith hopes the YONEX All England Open can ignite young careers as a bumper domestic entry descends on the Arena Birmingham bubble.

The Carlisle native is seeded fourth in the mixed doubles alongside Marcus Ellis and seventh in the women's doubles with Chloe Birch for the Super 1000 showpiece.

And she is enthused by the number of English players set for debuts in one of the world's most prestigious events, including Annie Lado, Jessica Hopton and Toby Penty.

"We've got a really big English representation, which is exciting and hopefully we can give our home fans something to be proud of," said Smith.

"There's loads of experience you can get out of playing in a venue like this.

"It's a huge arena, and the shuttle actually flies a bit differently than in smaller venues they might be used to playing in. That's something you can only learn at the top level.

"Normally there's a home advantage with the crowd here, and we will miss that. But I still think we'll benefit from that vibe of being in England and being able to access everything we normally can in our training environment.

"For those young guys, this is a brilliant experience and I hope they can take a lot from it."

The All England, one of only three Super 1000 tournaments on the BWF World Tour, was one of the last sporting events to be staged before COVID-19 struck last March.

Smith left Birmingham with a warm glow having reached the mixed doubles semi-finals with Ellis, beaten by the eventual winners, Indonesia's Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti.

The Cumbrian hopes to give badminton players nationwide a timely boost with indoor leisure centres set to reopen in mid-April.

"I've been coming to the All England since 2013 but last year was right up there," she said.

"We came so close to losing in some games and the roar of the crowd in those moments is something I'll absolutely never forget.

"Lockdown has been so hard for people and we're incredibly lucky to be able to step on a badminton court, a lot of people haven't had that luxury.

"I've had so many messages from people saying they're excited about this week and looking forward to watching it on TV again.

"Hopefully the end is in sight and people can be back on court soon in England."

Following a tough year for everyone, the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships marks the first step in inspiring people to get back on court as soon as they can. For more information for the badminton community, visit https://www.badmintonengland.co.uk/return-to-play/