The 2021 European Championships will certainly live long in the memory.
Not only were the medals on finals day delivered via drones, but there were also only three rather than five finals following two stars testing positive for Coronavirus.
It was a successful week for our English contingent, with three medals coming back home on the plane with the team.
On court in Kiev, top seeds Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith faced tough opposition against Russia’s sixth seeds Rodion Amilov and Alina Davletova. Our English duo fought hard after a strong start, before narrowly losing out on the top spot. The match ended 21-11 16-21 15-21.
Smith bounced back and returned to court to partner up alongside Chloe Birch in the women’s doubles final where they faced the number one Bulgarian Stoeva sisters.
It was the top seeds who came out on top 21-14 21-19 in such a closely fought game.
We also took home a bronze medal courtesy of Ellis and Chris Langridge in the men’s doubles event.
They missed out to Russian third seeds, Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov, 21-15, 21-10 on Saturday.
Ellis said: “Overall, I am happy with a good week’s work; disappointed not to have won the gold. However, after a very challenging preparation, we have to be quite happy with what we came away with.”
Smith added: “There are lots of positives to take from last week.
“Our performances in women’s doubles especially showed a step up in level, where we gained some key Olympic qualification points.
“I am disappointed I couldn’t take either of the finals but I’m feeling sharper and more at home every tournament and motivated to push on again as we get closer to Tokyo.”
There was also English interest in the men’s singles, with Alex Lane falling against tough French seventh seed, Toma Junior Popov, 21-9, 21-13.
Freya Redfearn also put in some impressive performances to reach the last 16 where she lost out to German third seed, Yvonne Li, 21-19, 21-8.
On quarter-finals day, we had lots of men’s doubles interest, with Matt Clare and Max Flynn putting in a strong performance against eventual champions, Ivanov and Sozonov.
They fell 21-11, 21-13 in a 30-minute duel but will take lots of positives from the week in Ukraine.
Fourth seeds, Ben Lane and Sean Vendy had a longer encounter against German pair, Mark Lamsfuss and Marvin Seidel, just being edged out 21-15, 17-21, 21-19 in just over an hour.
The team will now return to training ahead of their final two Olympic qualification events in Malaysia and Singapore later this month.