Ellis experienced ahead of Commonwealth return

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Marcus Ellis completed the set of Commonwealth Games medals on the Gold Coast four years ago
Marcus Ellis completed the set of Commonwealth Games medals on the Gold Coast four years ago

Marcus Ellis is still getting used to being one of the senior figures in Team England’s badminton squad, as the Commonwealth gold medallist returns for another Games.

The 32-year-old from Huddersfield has been one of the country’s stand-out players in a sport where British stars have continued to shine despite having its funding cut after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

It was at those Games that Ellis won bronze in the men’s doubles with Chris Langridge and success has continued to come in the years since, including a gold medal with Langridge in the same event in the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Australia’s Gold Coast.

It is experiences like that which make Ellis someone younger players seek out for advice, something that has already been the case ahead of the competitions at the NEC in Solihull.

“It just seemed to happen overnight – it wasn’t long since I was feeling I was still the youngest and then someone just flicked a switch and suddenly I’m the oldest by a few years,” said Ellis, 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.

“Being the oldest and most experienced is something I’ll have to take on myself now.

“It’s a role I have to embrace, trying to communicate with some of the younger guys, pass on any sort of experience I have to try and give them an advantage because I certainly appreciated that when I was their age.”

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

While he won’t be defending the men's doubles title in Birmingham, Ellis will be aiming to go one better in the mixed doubles alongside Lauren Smith, following their silver medal four years ago.

They were defeated by English team-mates Gabby and Chris Adcock in the final, but roles were reversed when the same two pairings came together in the final of the 2019 European Championships.

Following badminton’s Covid-enforced break, Ellis and Smith continued to be a force in the game, reaching the quarterfinals of the mixed doubles at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo last year.

Ellis, who will be returning to Japan for the World Championships following the Commonwealth Games, said: “It’s been good this year – we’ve finally got back to some sort of normality after these last couple of years.

“It’s been really nice having some crowds back in the arenas watching us playing, which has kind of reminded us why we enjoy playing.

“There are some huge events coming up, not just the Commonwealth Games but we’ve got the World Championships coming up as well.

“We’ve had plenty of tournaments to prepare for those as well, so we’re feeling quite positive.”

On the sort of team England are bringing to Birmingham, Ellis added: “If we compare our team to the last Games, we have some younger players in, some less experienced players in.

“But I would also say that we’ve got a very good mix – I class myself and Lauren as quite experienced, so hopefully we will be able to help some of the new guys who are coming through.”

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