Team England young gun Callum Hemming says winning silver at the European U15 Championships in Switzerland last weekend has filled him a huge sense of national pride.
The 14-year-old, who made his Team England debut in 2011 and has played for the Team Forza Badminton Academy in Milton Keynes since 2007, admitted to be hoping for a semi-final place in both level doubles and mixed doubles ahead of the trip to Switzerland.
However a string of fine performances, alongside men’s doubles partner Johnnie Torjussen, saw off rivals from Germany, Russia and Czech Republic in a charge that took the English pair to the final of the men’s doubles at the European U15 Championships.
Speaking to BADMINTON England ahead of flying out to play for his country at the 8 Nations in Denmark, Hemming said: “It was my biggest tournament so far and the atmosphere in the hall was incredible so to be involved in the award ceremony and pick up a silver medal felt amazing.
“I just love competing and to play for England is the best feeling ever. Just walking out in the Team England kit gives me confidence so winning silver at such a big European competition gives me a huge sense of pride.”
Switzerland has proved a happy hunting ground for the Hemming-Torjussen partnership.
The pair enjoyed a runners up spot at last September’s Swiss Junior Open and Hemming believed the duo could match that result at the Euros after putting in the hours on court to fine tune their gameplan.
Hemming added: “I was confident from the moment I saw the draw. I’ve been working hard with Johnnie and taking on extra training sessions in the weeks leading up to the Championships so I knew we could get to the final if we remained focused.”
“We knew the semi final (against the second seeds) was a winnable game for us so we put ourselves under a bit of pressure and we were more nervous for that than the final really.”
“We were the underdogs against the top seeds so we relaxed and went out there to enjoy ourselves and surprise our opponents.”
A 18-21, 17-21 reversal against the top seeds, and eventual champions, from Denmark in the final has done little to dampen their spirits though.
In fact, second step on the podium in the same arena where the senior Team England men’s squad collected European Championship silver medals of their own on the same weekend, has provided extra motivation.
Hemming said: “These championships have made me realise just how much I like challenging myself against the best players and getting to mix with the England squad that beat Germany to reach the senior final was so inspiring.”