New European Games champion Marcus Ellis believes he and Lauren Smith were ‘just a little bit better’ in a game of 'cat and mouse’ against team mates Chris and Gabby Adcock in today’s all-British gold medal match.
Ellis and Smith won Mixed Doubles gold for Team GB – their first multi-sport title together - with a dominant 21-14 21-9 victory over their fellow Brits to cap an incredible week both individually and for British badminton in Minsk.
Smith described it as a “dream come true” whilst Ellis admitted winning gold with Lauren ‘was extra special’ and something they would remember forever.
Today’s Mixed Doubles final, guaranteeing gold and silver, was anticipated to be a closely fought affair with just one world ranking place separating the two pairs. Both had been in good form, both enjoyed comfortable semi final wins.
Their only other head to head in international competition had gone the distance to three; that being the Commonwealth Games gold medal match won by the Adcocks, coming back from a game down, 14 months ago.
Here, after a dominant 21-14 opening game from Smith and Ellis in which Smith rightly said ‘they controlled the momentum’, any sign of an Adcock comeback on this occasion was extinguished quickly with their rivals taking the second game 21-9 to secure gold.
It was as emphatic as scorelines go and one Team GB chose to tag as a ‘shock’.
“The start of the game was really crucial,” Smith said. “Against teammates it can always be a little bit nervy and especially in a final. We got off to a good start and I think we actually controlled the game and momentum really well.
“We didn’t really give them very much and I think we frustrated them in the end.” she added. “We have put in one of our best performances today.”
There was no talk of revenge for the Gold Coast result 14 months or sense of bragging rights that often comes from such events and so seen in other sports. No.
In fact, bar some emotional celebrations on court together, Ellis especially was considered and reflective in his post-match review; testament to the team spirit on display this week amongst the badminton eight.
Speaking with double gold around his neck and the honour or being Team GB flagbearer already secured, Ellis said “It is never easy playing against your teammates who you are playing with every single day for the last 10 years.
“It’s a game of cat and mouse and seeing whoever can play better on the day. I think we all are at a very similar standard and I think today we were just a little bit better.”
For Ellis, Mixed Doubles gold was added to gold already achieved in the men’s doubles alongside Chris Langridge whilst Lauren Smith built on a women’s doubles silver with Chloe Birch.