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Sterling silver for Smith and Birch in Minsk

Lauren Smith and Chloe Birch won the first multi-sports individual event medal together in Minsk today, netting silver for Team GB.

The English national champions, who have defied the seedings all week, took the opening game against the experienced fourth seeds, Cheryl Seinen and Selena Piek from the Netherlands.

And when they established a lead in the second game another seed-beating result looked on the cards for the unseeded pair for whom the European Games has been the first major multi-sport event playing as a pair.

However, just like their only career meeting at the Dutch Open in October, the gold medal match would go to three ends – and with same out; a Dutch victory. The wily Piek and the energy of Seinen is a known threat on the European circuit and so it proved with the higher ranked duo rallying back to win the gold with a 21-14, 13-21, 15-21 to end British hopes of glory.

The Dutch resilience was particularly evident in a deciding third game which at the mid game interval was finely poised.

Smith and Birch will take great confidence and heart from a European Games in which they have established themselves as a pair who are well equipped to compete with – and beat - Europe’s finest.

Their opening group game win over the top seeded Danes further evidence that GB’s leading pair can build on their inpressive recent showing both in Minsk, on the European circuit and at the Sudirman Cup as Tokyo 2020 qualification ramps up.