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'Efficiency' sets Smith and Birch up for gold

English women’s doubles national champions Lauren Smith and Chloe Birch guaranteed a gold or silver medal for Team GB at the European Games today after another seed-beating victory in Minsk.

GB’s leading women’s doubles pair have been in dominant form in a week in which they beat the Danish top seeds on opening day and then toppled the French third seeds in today’s semi final.

Today at the Games the unseeded duo were, as Birch remarked, ‘efficient’ in executing a gameplan against the higher ranked Anne Tran and Emilie Lebel which built on their win against the French duo at the Azerbaijan International earlier in this month.

Smith and Birch won 21-13 21-13 in a fixture in which they were rarely troubled; it was a performance that was worthy of a shot in the gold medal match and they face Dutch duo Cheryl Seinen and Selena Piek for the title.

Birch, is making her multi-sport debut for Team GB and was rightly delighted to reach the Women’s Double gold medal match after seeing her singles challenge ended at the quarter final stage by Denmark second seed Mia Blichfeldt.

For Smith, the win ensured she will leave Minsk with two individual medals from two events – just like 14 months ago on the Gold Coast - and she is playing to determine the medal metal in both. She and mixed partner Marcus Ellis rallied to the semi finals with a 24-22 21-11 win over Germany’s Lamsfuss and Herttrich.

There remains the possibility of an all-Team GB gold medal match with Chris and Gabby Adcock beating Niklas Nohr and Sara Thysegen, the reigning European Games champions from Baku.

The top seeds won 21-15 19-21 21-15.

Check out our live blog for results, reaction, video and more from Minsk.

Photo credits: Lumix UK/TeamGB