Jon Austin, performance director of the Great Britain World Class Badminton Performance Programme (WCPP), was recently invited by the British Olympic Association to travel to Rio de Janerio, host city of the 2016 Olympics.
Here, he runs the rule over the badminton venue and surrounding facilities with this week’s qualification marking the countdown to the Games.
“The BOA invited me and one other sport to spend some time in Belo Horizonte, a 50-minute flight from Rio de Janeiro, to see view the potential pre-Games holding camp for Team GB.
"The primary aims of the visit was to get an orientation of the local area and the Athletes' Village, meet local Brazilian officials who are most likely to have a direct effect on the teams preparation and to meet the badminton competition manager to receive a comprehensive update on the progress of the venue and competition programme.
“Olympic sports have a option to sign up with the BOA to train and base themselves in the appointed venue at Belo Horizonte – and badminton has chosen to do that.
"The facilities are superb and the environment is attuned to high performance sport. We believe that with our planning and our partnership with the BOA we have the opportunity to be the opportunity to maximise our prepared leading Games”
“For the first time in the Olympic programme, badminton starts in the second week of the Rio Games. With that in mind, our pre-event preparation is even more significant: to maintain focus on the job in hand in the first week.”
The Olympic venue
“The badminton competition is housed at a pre-built venue, a conference centre called Riocentro, Pavilion 4. It is different from an environment we would normally compete in. But when it's up and running in Games' mode, there will be three competition courts, four warm-up courts and eight training courts, taking up about half of the whole building.
"Meanwhile, in the arena, there will be 6,5000 seats. Just from that, you can imagine the scale. The venue is right next door to the Athletes’ Village, perhaps a three-minute walk. Come Rio 2016, it might be 40 minutes as we would have to take the bus and go through security.”
Rio - a passion for sport
“We are going into an Olympic Games in a nation with no badminton tradition. This is similar to our experience in Athens 2004 and can have an effect on the training and playing environment, whilst this may be the case we will ensure we fully understand any differences and where possible we will endeavour to influence where we can to support the successful presentation of our sport.
“The Asian community will no doubt make sure the arena is packed. But if you think back to London 2012, arenas were being filled at sports that were not normally followed regularly.
"I felt from the city that there was a passion there already in Rio. The Brazilians are a proud nation and proud of what they are putting on. They continually want to show you every aspect of their city and culture.”
The Rio Test
“The Brazilian Grand Prix will act as the Olympic test event in November and we will have participation in that event. Though it might not necessarily be our Olympic qualifiers, we absolutely want to have someone on court to experience it and to get a much better understanding of the environment. Myself and Jakob Hoi, the GB head coach, will also be in attendance.”
Give your sport a helping hand. Find out all the ways you can volunteer at badmintonengland.co.uk/volunteers.