England badminton stars Rajiv Ouseph and Chris and Gabby Adcock have been crowned 2017 European Champions in men’s singles and mixed doubles respectively today as a nine year wait for a title came to a sensational end.
England have consistently medaled at the Europeans in recent years yet were without a gold since 2008.
But today, playing against Danish opposition in front of a Danish crowd, England rewrote a small slice of history by winning double gold – a feat that has not been achieved for 29 years.
Ouseph won in straight games, downing Danish fifth seed Anders Antonsen 21-19 21-19 in just their second competitive meeting between the pair, while the Adcocks beat top seeds Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen 21-17 18-21 21-19 in a 78-minute epic.
For Rajiv Ouseph, his men’s singles gold - the first for England since Steve Baddeley in 1990 - marks the start of a big week in which he will also get married to former GB Badminton star Kate Robertshaw.
It was also second time lucky for England’s number one, having been runner up three years ago and today’s gold – his fourth from a career at the European Championships – completes a set that also includes silver and two bronze.
Ouseph impressed throughout Sunday’s 48-minute final, showing resilience against an opponent who had already dispatched Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen to reach the final.
The win for Ouseph came from two hard-fought games, with the Englishman taking a 7-3 lead before Antonsen hit back to take a 12-9 advantage.
Ouseph rallied though and, despite letting an 18-15 lead slip, the 30-year-old sealed it 21-19 to take an all-important opener.
Antonsen had looked set to level matters in the second, with the Dane accelerating from 4-4 to establish a 15-10 lead.
But Ouseph was not giving up his advantage lightly and hit back with a run of six consecutive points.
And from 16-15 up Ouseph did not let his lead slip, going on to take it 21-19 and get his hands on the coveted gold medal.
The day got better for England, too, with Chris Adcock picking up the fourth European Championships medal of his career, following three bronzes in 2012 and 2014.
For Gabby the gold was a first individual medal at this level and the gold came after a battle, with the first and second seeds fighting it out over three tight games – with the lower ranked English duo eventually prevailing.
The leading English pair got off to a fine start, powering ahead from 9-9 to take the opener 21-17.
But it was the reverse story in the second, with the world number five pairing taking it 21-18 - having once again been locked together at 9-9.
The final game of the 2017 Championships then proved to be one packed with tension.
The Danes looked to have brought momentum from the second game into the third and took an early 4-0 lead, but five points in a row gave the Adcocks the advantage – only for the Danes to go back ahead 11-9.
That sparked the Adcocks into another gear, though, establishing a four-point margin at 15-11 and 18-14, before seeing the Danes close to within one point at 18-17.
But the Adcocks stood firm and eventually closed out the decider 21-19 to emulate the mixed doubles gold medal success of Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg in 2008.
“It means a lot to us to win gold. I’m so happy for us and for our coaches” said Chris.
Today’s double gold puts extra shine on a European Championships campaign that is further evidence that GB Badminton is bouncing back after recent funding decisions.
The Championships saw Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour win silver whilst England duo Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker won women’s doubles bronze.
It also comes in a week when Badminton England have launched new crowd funding opportunities to allow spots fans and the general public to invest in future success for English badminton and help fund the elite squad on the road to Tokyo 2020.
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Chris and Gabby Adcock start their European title defence on Day One of the 2018 European Championships - and its one of six matches with English interest.