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Badminton star Marcus Ellis returned from the Gold Coast with a full set of Commonwealth Games medals but, four years later, his focus is only on getting the gold for his mixed doubles partner Lauren Smith, writes Sportsbeat's Milly McEvoy.
Smith, who is Ellis’ partner on and off the court, has won five Commonwealth Games medals including three on the Gold Coast but has never stood on the top step of the podium.
Ellis, who hails from Huddersfield, hopes he and Smith have the same Games experience this time, instead of the wildly contrasting emotions of four years ago.
“I want to do it for her as much as I do for myself. I came away from the Gold Coast very, very happy. I felt like I'd done the best I could and I was happy with what we achieved,” said the 32-year-old, who is one of over 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.
“Lauren obviously came away with two silvers which I can't even imagine how it must have felt and I still remember how disappointed she was.
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“For me, it was really, really sad because that was one of the best memories and weeks of my career and it ended up being quite emotional for her.
“So, I really want to do it for her as much as I do for myself, but I’m not going to put any more pressure on myself, I’ve got enough of that already.
“I'd really like to go out there and get the gold and at the moment there's nothing else in my mind other than that.”
This summer, Team England, supported by National Lottery funding, will comprise of over 400 athletes in total, 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 Ellis is far from done with the racquet, he has also turned his hand to coaching, working with Smith and her then-women's doubles partner Chloe Birch during the Indonesia leg of the BWF World Tour.
And Ellis says it has provided him with a new perspective to take into his own game.
He added: “When you are coaching you see the sport so simply and clearly. When you're caught up in the moment you're just doing your thing and everything gets quite confused as a player.
“But when you go into the coaching seat and you see it from outside, all of a sudden everything is just crystal clear and I do think that can help you as a player.
“If you can take on that thinking you don't even have to coach sometimes but I think just having that mindset when you're watching a match is an incredibly good tool for learning.
“You can actually implement some of that whilst you're still playing rather than just saying ‘now I'm an athlete’, ‘now I'm a coach’, I think it could be hugely beneficial."
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