Smith looking for first medal in Birmingham

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Tang Chun Man of Hong Kong and Tse Ying Suet of Hong Kong celebrate with their coach after winning the match against Marcus Ellis of Britain and Lauren Smith of Britain.
Tang Chun Man of Hong Kong and Tse Ying Suet of Hong Kong celebrate with their coach after winning the match against Marcus Ellis of Britain and Lauren Smith of Britain.

Badminton player Lauren Smith is looking for the final piece of her medal collection at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The 30-year-old from Carlisle has five Commonwealth medals in her collection, with two of those coming in her first Games at Glasgow in 2014 when she won silver in the mixed team event and bronze in the women’s doubles.

Smith switched those colours around in those events at Australia’s Gold Coast in 2018, while she claimed another silver medal alongside partner, and boyfriend, Marcus Ellis in the mixed doubles.

Since then, the duo have won gold in the 2019 European Championships and their quarter-final showing at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo last year has given Smith confidence they can be a force at Birmingham.

“To be fair, every event I’ve ever played, every match I’ve ever played or anything else that’s gone on, I’ve always wanted to win,” said Smith, 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’ve always been going to events for gold and I don’t want to put too much pressure on this, saying ‘silver and bronze I’ve already got so they’re not enough,’ but I know absolutely know that if we play well, we’re capable of winning gold.

“That’s in the back of my mind to give me confidence, to give me a bit of fire and determination in those matches and, of course, completing the set for myself and for Team England as well would be pretty cool.”

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, Smith is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in her home country.

For Smith, the 2022 Commonwealth Games will be her first major championship to take place in England, with the badminton competitions taking place at the NEC in Solihull.

She just missed out on competing at the 2012 Olympics in London and cannot wait to feel the energy of the crowd, having had to play behind closed doors in Japan last year due to Covid restrictions.

Smith said: “It’s so exciting, especially because we played with no crowd at the Olympics, so to have a home crowd is going to be incredible.

“I played in Glasgow, so it was sort of a half-home crowd. A lot of my family managed to get up there and, apart from the one match we played Scotland, the support was incredible.

“But that experience has really stuck with me and it’s driven me to come to more and more Commonwealth Games, so I’m sure that is going to lift us, especially in tough moments in matches.

“That’s when the home crowd really makes a difference and help you win matches that in other arenas you’d maybe lose, so I’m hoping we have a lot of those moments where we’re not just winning on our own but winning with the crowd behind us.”

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