Smith puzzling her way to Commonwealth gold

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Smith will be going for gold with her mixed doubles partner Marcus Ellis, who is her partner on and off the court.
Smith will be going for gold with her mixed doubles partner Marcus Ellis, who is her partner on and off the court.

As Lauren Smith gets ready for her third Commonwealth Games, she is focusing on a big change on the court and making small ones off it, writes Sportsbeat's Milly McEvoy.

The 30-year-old from Carlisle has been named as part of Team England’s Badminton squad for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and will be concentrating solely on mixed doubles having previously also competed in the women’s doubles event.

Smith will go in search of a first gold medal having claimed three silvers and two bronzes in her previous appearances.

The move to just one event has given Smith some unexpected free time and like the rest of the world, she’s been testing her puzzle skills with Wordle.

“When I went to the first tournament, the German Open, I just couldn't quite believe how much free time I had,” said Smith, 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.

“Normally I'd have a match quite early morning and have to get up and have breakfast, play a match, then instantly I'd switch into recovery and preparation for the next event later in the day, sometimes quite late in the evening.

“I went to Germany and on the first day my match was one o'clock in the afternoon, so I got up at quite a normal time, had a nice casual breakfast, prepared for the match, played the match and then I sat there twiddling my thumbs thinking ‘what do I do?’

“Obviously Wordle is a big thing and there is Worlde, Quordle and Octordle so they keep me busy for quite a while.

“I try not to do too much just sitting around and being obsessed by Wordle, I try and get out and go for a walk around the city that we're in, it's been nice but not great for screen time!”

This summer, Team England, supported by National Lottery funding, will comprise of over 400 athletes in total, 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.

Smith, who is now based in Milton Keynes, travelled down from her native Cumbria to watch the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 and is relishing the chance to represent her country as the Games return to England.

Away from the court, Smith is introducing little changes as she looks to have less of an impact on the planet and encourages others to do the same.

She added: “I know that I'm a huge hypocrite when I talk about sustainability because I am far from perfect.

“But my mindset has been that if everybody can just do small things that they can keep up, those little changes make a big difference. If you tell someone to go zero waste, they'll just change nothing.

“Whereas if you tell somebody ‘have you thought about carrying your own cutlery?’ and then they'll start doing that and those are the things that make a difference in the long run and that’s the message I am trying to get out there.”

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