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England name squad for World Badminton Championships

England name squad for World Badminton Championships

Three singles players and six doubles pairs have qualified through the World Rankings with England represented in all five disciplines. But, as a bonus, England have also been awarded wild card entries in all five events by the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

Commonwealth Games silver medallist Rajiv Ouseph, England’s top-ranked singles player at No 19 in the world, is the only Londoner in the squad as the World Badminton Championships come to the capital for the first time.  He will tackle the men’s singles along with Kent’s Carl Baxter while Commonwealth bronze medallist Elizabeth Cann has qualified for the women’s singles.

Nathan Robertson is the only world champion in the England line-up, having won the mixed doubles title with Gail Emms in Madrid in 2006.   Robertson, who won a silver medal in mixed and men’s doubles at the Commonwealth Games last year, will tackle the mixed doubles with Jenny Wallwork in the arena where next year’s Olympic badminton competition will be staged. They are England’s highest ranked players in any of the five events at No. 13 in the world.

Wallwork will also tackle the women’s doubles with Gabby White while Mariana Agathangelou and Heather Olver are England’s other women’s doubles pair to have qualified, having climbed above their England rivals to No.21 in the world rankings, nine places above Wallwork and White.

Chris Adcock, who was in the squad which competed at the World Championships in Paris last year, will partner Andrew Ellis in the men’s doubles, where they are ranked No. 22. Adcock will also team up with Scotland’s Imogen Bankier in a rapidly developing mixed partnership which has already seen them rise to No. 20 in the world.

England’s other men’s doubles qualifiers are Marcus Ellis and Peter Mills, who are No. 33 in the world. Ellis is one of five Yorkshire doubles players in the squad while Mills is one of five from Nottinghamshire.

The wild cards have presented England with the opportunity to give 6ft 2in teenager Toby Penty a taste of the big stage as the left-hander from Surrey joins Ouseph and Baxter in the men’s singles.

Penty, a quarter-finalist at last month’s European Junior Championships, will be 19 during the Championships and will be getting his first taste of badminton at the highest level.

English National Championships runner-up Sarah Walker, the 21-year-old from Essex, is also awarded a wild card and joins Cann in the women’s singles.

Doubles star Anthony Clark, who like Robertson, has represented England more than 100 times, is also awarded a wild card after his new partnership with Chris Langridge has been held back by injury.

Clark, who won men’s doubles and mixed doubles silver medals at the 2006 World Championships, missed the English National Championships after being hit in the eye by a shuttle but Langridge teamed up with Robertson to lift the men’s doubles title.

The women’s doubles wild card goes to two 19-year-olds in Carlisle’s Lauren Smith and Grimsby’s Alex Langley, who won the Portuguese International title earlier this month and are ranked in the world’s top 100.

The mixed doubles wild card gives Marcus Ellis and Heather Olver the chance to tackle a second event at Wembley Arena.

Yorkshire’s Andrew Ellis, who will be one of those emerging young players making his World Championship debut, said today: “This is a fantastic opportunity. To be playing a World Championships on home soil at any point in your career is really exciting, but to have my first one in London is special."
“The support of the home crowd will play a big part in making the occasion. But I will try it put it to the back of my mind and focus on just playing well and give crowd something to cheer about.”

Jens Grill, BADMINTON England’s new Performance Director, said: “This squad represents a blend of youth and experience. Players like Nathan and Anthony will be crucial in passing on their experience to those squad members tackling a World Championships for the first time.

“But the five wild cards have given us a great opportunity to build for the future by giving youngsters like Toby Penty and Sarah Walker in singles and Alex Langley and Lauren Smith in doubles the chance to show what we can expect from our new generation of players as we plan far beyond London 2012.”

The full England squad is:

Men’s singles:
Rajiv Ouseph (Middx)
Carl Baxter (Kent)
Toby Penty (Surrey)

Women’s singles:
Elizabeth Cann (Jersey)
Sarah Walker (Essex)

Men’s doubles:
Chris Adcock (Notts) & Andrew Ellis (Yorks)
Marcus Ellis (Yorks) & Peter Mills (Notts)
Anthony Clark (Notts) & Chris Langridge (Surrey)

Women’s doubles:
Mariana Agathangelou (Avon) & Heather Olver (Sussex)
Jenny Wallwork (Yorks) & Gabby White (Yorks)
Lauren Smith (Yorks) & Alex Langley (Notts)

Mixed doubles:
Nathan Robertson (Notts) & Jenny Wallwork (Yorks)
Chris Adcock (Notts) & Imogen Bankier (Scotland).
Marcus Ellis (Yorks) & Heather Olver (Sussex)

*Rankings quoted relate to Thursday May 5 lists. A new BWF ranking is due out at www.bwfbadminton.org later on Thursday, May 12
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