14.07.16: Langridge making sacrifices to achieve his dream
Chris Langridge saw 21 years of graft come to fruition as he was named in Team GB’s badminton squad, and he admits he is now desperate to succeed at his ‘sporting pinnacle’.
Langridge and doubles partner Marcus Ellis have undergone a rapid upturn in fortunes since they joined forces two years ago and they now head to Rio bursting with confidence.
They have proven themselves to be the leading men’s double’s partnership in the country in the last two years, claiming the English National Championships in 2015 and 2016, while their encouraging performances at the YONEX All England Open Championship are further cause for optimism.
And though Langridge, now 31, took to badminton aged ten like a duckling to water, it has not always been a smooth journey.
“I started at the age of 10. It was my school teacher Jackie Cunningham who introduced me to badminton. Within 18 months I managed to get into the England team and I had quite a quick progression,” he said.
“It was a case of hard work and dedication from the age of 10 to where I am now at the age of 31, which is a long time.
“You have ups and downs and there are times when you can train exceptionally well and go out to a tournament and play terribly and it doesn’t make sense.
“It’s frustrating and it’s like a step back but you almost need those steps back to eventually get to where you get to. I’ve learnt a lot in the 20 years of playing elite sport.”
Bumps in the road to Rio
One such step back saw Langridge removed from the World Class badminton programme – a significant speedbump that the English Champion can now look back on as a major positive.
“In an obscure way it helped me because it made me realise I am as good if not better than the players who were on funding,” the Epsom-born star said.
“They would literally have to shut the doors to not let me in because I was going to train.
“It shows that no matter what people say and do, if you really believe something and know something you can do it.”
As with any elite sport, in badminton sacrifice is a by-word for success and though Langridge admits it is often painful to miss out on ‘everyday’ landmarks, seeing his name in the British Olympic squad is vindication enough for his decisions.
Having been drawn to face London 2012 silver medallists Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen and third seeds Kim Gi-jung and Kim Sa-rang of Korea in Rio, Langridge finds himself in lofty company – something he has been aiming for his entire life.
He said: “I’ve had times where I’ve thought is this right lifestyle for me? There are so many things you have to give up.
“The amount of times I’ve missed great friends’ weddings and stag do’s – the general things people love to do but because we’re an elite athlete you can’t afford to take a day or even a session off.
“For me that first goal from the age of 16 was to go to the Olympics and represent Team GB and put on a good show for myself and for my country. I want to compete with the best in the world.”
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games starts on 5 August, while the badminton competition begins on 11 August.
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