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Katie Falkingham

Women's Sport Week: The life of a badminton journalist

Badminton journalist Katie Falkingham talks us through what it's like to write about the sport on a daily basis
 
If you’d told me two years ago that I would be the lead badminton reporter for the UK’s leading provider of sports content, I’d be wondering what planet you were on.
 
Back then, I was just about to start my journalism training, my heart set on becoming the next Gabby Logan, covering both football and the Olympics.
 
Badminton, for me, was then just a sport I’d occasionally played throughout my 20+ years. I remembered Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson winning their Olympic silver in 2004, and I’d heard of Chris and Gabby Adcock – but, I’ll be honest, that was it.
 
But come November 2016, I was thrown into the world of Badminton England, the AJ Bell National Badminton League and the YONEX All England. I’ve interviewed the Adcocks, Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis more times than I can count on both hands – and I absolutely love it.

I am a multimedia journalist for Sportsbeat, a London-based press agency who partner with some of the biggest names in sport.

We provide content for both the Badminton England and YONEX All England websites, covering tournaments and producing features as well as creating broadcast and video packages.

When I joined the wider Badminton England team, everyone was still on cloud nine following Chris and Marcus’ bronze in Rio, but just a month later came UK Sport’s funding cuts, knocking us all for six.

We went on tours of schools and clubs with them both, showing off their medals and their fantastic achievements, and it was amazing to see first-hand just how much they had become inspirations to so many.

In March, my colleague Nick and I made the journey north to Birmingham for a week covering the YONEX All England. It was a job we’d been looking forward to for some time, excited to see some of the players we’d worked with so extensively throughout the AJ Bell NBL season ply their trade at such a high level.

It proved to be one of the best weeks of my career to date. I interviewed the likes of Lee Chong Wei, PV Sindhu, Lin Dan, and many more, and both Nick and I were absolutely devastated when the Adcocks were eliminated in the semi-finals.

But upon walking into the press room on the very first day of competition, it became abundantly clear to me that I was a minority. Why? Because I’m female.

Throughout the entire week we were in the Midlands, I don’t recall ever meeting another female British journalist. There were maybe three or four, at a push, from overseas.

I was introduced to a few reporters who were described to me as ‘old-school badminton journalists’. Aside from their remarkable knowledge of the sport, they also had another thing in common – they were all male.

But it wasn’t something that bothered me, because I’m so used to being the only female in a mixed zone or press conference. While the numbers are certainly growing, sports journalism remains an industry still dominated by men.

Fast forward a month to April, and I found myself driving along the cliff tops of Whitby on a rare weekend back in my native Yorkshire. When I should have been catching up with my parents, I was, in fact, desperately searching for 3G signal so I could find out if the Adcocks had won their European final.

Sat in the passenger seat, I almost hit my Dad square in the face as I punched the air in delight as they won that deciding point.

It showed to me just how invested I have become in the sport. I’m probably one of very few female badminton journalists in Britain, and that’s something I’m exceptionally proud of. 

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