Birch has younger generation in mind in second Commonwealth Games

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Birch (left) is looking to improve on her bronze medal from four years ago.
Birch (left) is looking to improve on her bronze medal from four years ago.

Chloe Birch has the younger generation at the forefront of her mind in the lead up to the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The Preston-born badminton player has graduated from least experienced to most experienced since her team event bronze medal at the Gold Coast 2018 games.

And the 26-year-old is determined to give the younger athletes a home Games experience they will never forget.

“Looking back on Gold Coast it was a real big steppingstone for me as an athlete,” said Birch, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

“I came in a young athlete just wanting to experience everything at once and to do my best for the team, but it actually really propelled me into a high level of badminton which was amazing.

“I found the 2018 Games very daunting and so I’m trying to use how I felt in those experiences to help the less experienced and younger ones.

“It will just be about pulling together and having a team environment for some of the less experienced ones to give them a bit of confidence.

“I’ve really tried to make sure that everything I do in this sport is for the benefit of all the younger ones coming through, they’ve definitely been at the forefront of my mind in all the things that I’ve done.”

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured her place on the squad, Birch is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in her home country.

With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Birch hopes sharing her story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.

Naming herself her biggest critic, Birch is specifically looking to make sure the younger players don’t put too much pressure on themselves, instead enjoying the competition with open eyes.

But with a new doubles partner in Jessica Pugh, Birch has found herself in a position of learning as well.

Originally competing with long-time partner Lauren Smith, Birch moved to compete with Pugh a few months after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

And with a strong semi-final appearance at the recent Orleans Masters, Birch is impressed with the way their partnership is forming.

“For me personally, a lot has changed in the last few months and so it’s amazing to be selected and to be representing Team England again,” she added.

“It’s always hard at the start of a new partnership as you’re getting used to what each other does, but you have to keep going otherwise the long-term things like the Commonwealth medals will never appear, so we have put time and effort in to find a style that works.

“I really think we’ve taken a positive step forward and I really hope that shows in the Commonwealths and shows that we’re coming together as a team a little bit more.”

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