Rajiv Ouseph’s men’s singles success at last weekend’s European Badminton Championships saw him join an exclusive club of English winners.
Stephen Baddeley was the last person to claim the men's singles title back in 1990 when he beat compatriot and reigning champion Darren Hall but that 27 year wait came to a spectacular end in Denmark.
Baddeley retired as a European and Commonwealth men’s singles champion and has since gone on to hold the roles of performance director and chief executive at Badminton England, while he is now chair of the GB Badminton Board.
While he went on to retire shortly afterwards, England’s number one is being tipped to go from strength to strength on the international scene.
At 30, Ouseph is a year older than Baddeley was when he picked up European gold but the latter believes the two-time Olympian has plenty more miles left in the tank.
“I was the last Englishman to win the men’s singles title 27 years ago and it was a proud moment for me, one of my career highlights alongside my Commonwealth Games title,” said Baddeley.
“It’s been far too long since we’ve had another champion so I’m so pleased for Rajiv. He had to contend with a strong Danish line-up in the tournament but he is a world class player.
“He’s got many attributes to his game, he’s got a wide selection of shots and has great touch around the net, he’s been performing well and now he’s got a great result.
“I was 29 when I won my European title, it was a result I did not expect but I already had it in my head I was going to retire so it was nice to go out on a high.
“But for Rajiv, this will give him something to build on going forwards and give him even more motivation to keep striving to be the best he can be. It’s also a nice wedding present for him too as I hear he’s getting married!”
Ouseph was not the only English success story in Denmark, with Chris and Gabby Adcock winning gold in the mixed doubles – the first time the country have won two golds at the Euros since 1988.
There was also a bronze medal for Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker in the women’s doubles, with Baddeley hoping the podium success, and performances of the entire team, will have a knock-on effect.
“Hopefully the results of the whole team, and in particular Rajiv, can inspire other players and the younger generation,” he added,
European Champion! Thanks to everyone for their support this week and to all the coaches/players that have helped me to get here, so proud!— Rajiv Ouseph (@rajivouseph) April 30, 2017
“We’ve tended to have success in the doubles events in recent years but not necessarily in men’s and women’s singles.
“The way it tends to be is that people concentrate on singles early in their career and then in this country there has been a tendency since lottery funding to move into doubles and we’ve lost that singles talent.
“But Rajiv has shown that it can be done and it’s great publicity for the sport. We want to be driving forward across all events, doubles and singles and hopefully that can happen.”
Pic: Badminton Photo
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