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Smith relishes home support at All England

Given the itinerant lifestyle of the professional badminton player, England’s Lauren Smith treasures every opportunity she gets to play in front of her home fans.

Rio Olympian Smith, who has five Commonwealth Games medals to her name, is preparing to compete at the YONEX All England Championships in Birmingham next week. 

And for 27-year-old Smith, the highlights of the Birmingham championships are as innumerous as the tournament is illustrious.

“To play on home soil is a really big deal for us,” she said.

“The crowd gets behind you; the hall’s a really enjoyable venue to play; the style of game that you can play in there really suits how I like to play.

“Especially to not have to travel so far to an event is definitely an advantage! It’s a great opportunity to showcase our best, so I’m really looking forward to getting started.

“When you’re having those harder moments or you’re maybe feeling like it’s not going your way, to have the crowd behind you to lift you and motivate you, it really helps.

“And it’s those marginal differences that, when you get to the end of games or really close games, is the thing that turns it round in your favour.”

With over 30,000 fans set to descend upon the Arena Birmingham to watch the cream of the crop do battle, Smith is preparing for action in the women’s and mixed doubles, alongside Chloe Birch and Marcus Ellis respectively.

And she knows that her bid to become the first British winner at the YONEX All England since Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms back in 2005 will by no means be a straightforward one.

She said: “If we get a win under our belts and then challenge a top-level pair, I’d be happy with that. In the mixed I’d love to reach a quarter-final - I’ve not reached a quarter-final of the All England. For me it’s just taking it game-by-game and trying to play well.

“I’m pretty confident. Marcus and I have been playing quite well, taking some good scalps, and Chloe and I only started playing together in September and I feel we’re really growing as a pair.

“We’re playing very confidently and if we can continue our form and confidence I think that’ll make a big difference.” 

 

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6-10 March | Arena Birmingham