Earlier this week we caught up with Badminton England's Performance Director, Jon Austin.
So, tell us about how long you’ve been involved with badminton, or have worked for Badminton England? What is your role all about?
I have been involved for around 42 years as a player, coach, volunteer and finally in my current role as Performance Director with Badminton England. My role oversees all aspects of what some would term “elite badminton” in England for both the Olympic and Paralympic aspects of our sport. I would see my primary roles as setting the direction and creating the opportunities to enable others to get the best out of our senior players and also to develop our future stars. My work includes securing the necessary funds to deliver our performance programmes and also to act as Team Leader for Great Britain and England at the major multi-sport events including the Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games
What’s your favourite thing about your role? What do you find most rewarding?
I feel extremely fortunate and privileged to be involved with the sport that has meant so much to me for much of my life. I have the opportunity to work with highly motivated and driven people who also passionately care about what we are doing.
It is the nature of performance sport that we have to deal with a lot of disappointment and on occasions failure, as a result when we have success and it is achieved with people who have been through the same experiences it is incredibly rewarding.
How has the COVID-19 lockdown impacted you? What have you been up to during this time?
There have been some challenging times as we have endeavoured to come to terms with the impact of Covid-19 on our sport and everyone who is involved. Whilst it has been far from easy, I positively reflect on how the players, coaches and staff has adapted and consistently sought to find solutions to all the difficulties and uncertainties we are dealing with.
I do miss the daily interaction with the team (having been based at home for the duration) and also the reminder as to why we all put our heart and soul into the work we do when spending time with the players and coaches training at the NBC. I look forward to the day where we can return, but I have no doubts we will learn from these extraordinary times to positively impact on how we achieve success in the future.
Physical exercise has been a daily requirement for me for as long as I can remember, lockdown has resulted in a refreshing approach to my daily routine and in particular the rediscovery of the joy of riding a bike. The only issue with this rediscovery I have become what one might call a ‘middle aged man in lycra’! I have enjoyed cycling so much that I have now embraced this, and have become a fully-fledged MAMIL – amazing what lockdown can do to people!
And finally, what would be your favourite sporting moment and why?
My favourite sporting moment is Rajiv Ouseph winning his singles bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The backstory is that Rajiv played all 6 team matches resulting in England winning team bronze. Having given a lot of himself for the team, Rajiv went straight into the individual competition. As each day passed it was clear fatigue was taking its toll, the physios were working overtime each evening to get him in shape to be able to compete the following day but we were not sure how long he could keep going. In the semi final Rajiv lost and was clearly exhausted from his efforts. Everybody did everything they could to get him ready for his bronze medal match the same evening but deep down we could not see how Rajiv would physically and mentally pick himself up. Rajiv lost the first set and was 4 match points down in the second, somehow after some gruelling rallies he managed to save them all before taking the second set 25-23. In the third Rajiv’s opponent was clearly shocked by what had just happened and Rajiv never gave him a chance to get back into the match, winning the final set and bronze medal 21-9.
Every member of our team were delighted for Rajiv, we knew this would most likely be his last Commonwealth Games and in Glasgow four years previously he had missed out on an individual medal having once again given his all for team silver on that occasion. A memorable moment for all those present and an incredible example of resilience and determination.