GB Badminton 1200

Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith are hoping to thrive on the added responsibility of representing Team GB as they prepare to defend their European Games title.

The pair took mixed doubles gold in Minsk four years ago as Great Britain topped the badminton medal table, Ellis also coming out on top alongside Chris Langridge in the men’s doubles and Smith taking silver with Chloe Birch in the women’s doubles.

This year’s competition begins on Monday (June 26), with Ellis and Smith part of a 10-strong British contingent heading to Krakow.

It’s hard to explain exactly why it feels different but when you go there you feel you have some extra power behind you, some extra support and it has brought some of our best performances, both personally and as a partnership,” Ellis said.

“When we go to a normal competition, it feels like we are playing for ourselves a lot of the time.

“When we go to these events, you really feel like you want to do your bit for the sport, for Team GB, and you want to see badminton’s medals on the table there. I feel an overwhelming responsibility to contribute to the tally.”

Smith added: “Watching Team GB athletes in the Olympics and other events when I was a child is what inspired me to pursue sport.

“It is quite strange to be on the other side of it now and hopefully inspiring young people to get involved, whether that’s in badminton or any sport.

“Being part of Team GB, you just feel like you have that extra lift as the whole team is there to help you succeed.”

Ellis and Smith are in Pool D alongside German fourth seeds – and reigning European champions – Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Lohau, Slovenia’s Miha Ivančič and Petra Polanc, and Austria’s Philip Birker and Katharina Hochmeir.

The men’s singles will see Johnnie Torjussen make his Team GB debut, with the 24-year-old to take on Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen, Netherlands’ Mark Caljouw and Slovakia’s Milan Dratva in Pool D.

“I’m feeling a bit nervous but I’m hoping to do really well and just play my best for the team,” he said.

“It’s a tough draw and it’s my first big event like this. They are all tough players but we will do our fair share of analysis and I’m hoping to get some good games in there.

“I’m looking forward to being in the village and then just to get playing, and hopefully experiencing a good atmosphere and the togetherness of the event.

“This is what we work for from a young age, to try and represent Team GB.”

Great Britain have two seeded pairs in the men’s doubles, both of whom are looking to follow in Ellis and Langridge’s footsteps.

Ben Lane and Sean Vendy are seeded second for their European Games debut and have been placed in Pool B with Italy’s Giovanni Greco and David Salutt, Ireland’s Joshua Magee and Paul Reynolds, and Azerbaijan’s Ade Resky Dwicahyo and Azmy Qowimuramadhoni.

“We’re really excited,” Lane said.

“It’s our first time playing the European Games, so we’re looking forward to getting going, and we’ve played some really good badminton over the last five weeks in Asia.”

Vendy added: “Team GB is the biggest team we can represent. We went to the Olympics in Tokyo, which was a really good experience, and it’s really nice to put this shirt back on.”

Pool D features fourth seeds Alexander Dunn and Adam Hall, who will play Poland’s Miłosz Bochat and Robert Cybulski, French brothers Christo Popov and Toma Junior Popov, and Czech pair Ondřej Král and Adam Mendrek.

Kirsty Gilmour, three times a European silver medallist, goes in as fifth seed in the women’s singles as she looks to earn gold.

The Scottish star is in Pool E with Wiktoria Dąbczyńska, of the home nation, Netherlands’ Jaymie Laurens and Cyprus’ Eleni Christodoulou. Carolina Marin, who has beaten Gilmour in each of her three European finals to date in 2016, 2017 and 2022, is top seed.

The women’s doubles, meanwhile, sees Ciara Torrance and Julie MacPherson take on Danish second seeds Maiken Fruergaard and Sara Thygesen, Ukraine’s Mariia Stoliarenko and Yelyzaveta Zharka, and Italy’s Martina Corsini Judith Mair in Pool B.

The badminton action runs from June 26 to July 2, with matches available to watch live via

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