From the moment she first picked up a badminton racket, there was always one ambition at the very forefront of Chloe Birch’s dreams – to become national champion.
And on Sunday, that dream became a reality when she won the women’s singles title at the English National Championships in Wycombe with a 21-17 21-12 victory over Atu Rosalina Sagita.
Having reached the final last year – missing out on the top prize to Fontaine Chapman – Birch made no mistake at the second time of asking, dispatching 2001 Indonesia national champion Sagita in straight games.
Birch, who made her World Championship debut in Glasgow two weeks ago, couldn’t follow up that victory in the women’s doubles, taking home silver with Jess Pugh after defeat to top seeds Sarah Walker and Lauren Smith.
But there was no stopping the smile on Birch’s face as she picked up her singles trophy, thrilled her gameplan had paid off to perfection.
“I’m really happy with that, was always going to be nervous going in but I played really well, as did Atu,” said the 21-year-old.
“I knew I could be quick and strong; I knew I had it in my legs today. I am a lot fitter and stronger than I was 18 months ago so I just pushed the pace all the way.
“I played her quite a lot when I was at Loughborough University so I kind of know her game and know what I needed to do to beat her. I knew the game plan it was just whether I could implement it.
“I had all the nerves and pressure on me today but after a nervy start, I’m glad I got into it and came through.”
For every badminton player climbing up the rankings to the top of the sport, the national title is the one everyone wants to win.
And now that she has that one ticked off the bucket list, the only way is up for Birch.
“Winning the Nationals means masses to me, I’ve always done well at Nationals – I’ve had some good results here, I’ve had some close losses here,” she said.
“This is what, when I was a little kid coming to this tournament, I dreamed of doing and now at 21 I’ve managed to do it.”