September 2006 All News
Gold guaranteed as three pairs reach Madrid finals
NATHAN ROBERTSON and Gail Emms put their fans through torture as they squandered five match points before scrambling in to the final of the mixed doubles at the world championships in Madrid today.
Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg had opened the semi-finals programme with a blistering win over Koo Kien Keat and Wong Pei Tty of Malaysia 21-14 21-12.
And things just got better and better for Clark as he ended the day by booking his place in the men's doubles finalwith Robert Blair.
Robertson and Emms looked set to join Clark and Kellogg in the mixed final as they took the first game 21-18 against Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoughthongkam of Thailand.
But the Thai pair hit back to take the second 21-17 and things looked bleak when they opend up a 15-11 lead in the decider.
But the Olympic silver and Commonwealth gold medallists held their nerve to claw their way back. They were level at 15-15 only to slip back to 15-17. Finally they got their noses in front at 20-18 for the first of the match points. But the determined Thailand pair wouldn't give up as they kept pulling back.
When the England pair got their fifth match point at 23-22 Emms served into the net - and there must then have been bad memories of their Yonex All England flop when they wasted five match points in the final against Zhang Jun and Gao Ling before relinquishing their title back in January.
But match point number six was converted and that triggered one of Robertson's typically jubilant celebrations.
Afterwards he said: "It was an amazing match. There was no difference between the two pairs out there. Amazing, incredible."
Emms said: "This is great for English badminton. The training at Milton Keynes has been brilliant and we've all really worked as a team."
"Robertson added: "Anthony and Donna are now playing at the same level as us. We have been waiting for them tohave a greaet win and they have done it here.
"It's the best thing to happen to English badminton. England have now got the second most medals at these championships.
"Anthony and Donna are two of our closest friends. I haveknow him for more than 12 years We would not wish to play anyone else if we had the choice."
Clark revealed that his big improvement has been the result of losing weight. "I have lost a stone," he said. "At the Commonwealth Games people saw me on TV and said I looked fat. SoI have cut out chocolate, takeways and things like that and I am eating healthier.
"I spoke to the dieticians and they have worked out how I could lose the weight without losing my strength. I am eating lots of salads and I'm avoiding eating anything bad."
Sunday's men's and women's singles and the women's doubles are all-Chinese finals, guaranteeing them three golds compared to their two in Anaheim last year. They also have a pair through to the men's doubles final... but England's dominance in the mixed has helped ensure China won't pick up a medal of any colour in the mixed.
And Clark and Blair will want to stop top seeds Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng in the men's doubles after a nailbiting win over Denmark's 2003 world champions Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen.
The England pair won 23-21 17-21 21-17 to leave Clark saying: "If someone had told me before these championships that I would win a brozne I would have settled for that. But to be in two finals is unbelievable."
Blair said: "I was a bit upset when I learned Anthony's mixed was first but it turned out all right. The Chinese will be huge opponents. They will be big favourites but that means we will be relaxed and free to give it a go."
Clark said: "It would be unfair on a partner not to give everything and I would never do that. But my fitness level is so good that I am still going strong."