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World Championships: A journalist's perspective

Every sports journalist wants to cover a World Championships. I was lucky – I covered two in almost as many weeks.

First the athletics in London, and then the badminton in Glasgow, August was a busy month to say the least, watching the world’s finest go for gold on British soil.

Having enjoyed the YONEX All England to the max back in March, I couldn’t wait to head north of the border to the World Championships, and with the Adcocks and Raj Ouseph coming into the tournament as European champions, I felt confident that we would see English success.

Two days before play started, I sat courtside at the Emirates Arena as the England players warmed up in the main hall for the first time. They were on fire, excitement brimming as to what the coming days would hold.

The first few days of the tournament passed in a blur – disappointment and frustration for some English players, memorable performances from others. Most notably, the Adcocks.

 

During their quarter-final, my nerves were shred. I watched the first game from the media tribune, before pacing around the mixed zone for the remainder of the match. The volunteers couldn’t stop laughing at me, such was my tension.

When that final shuttle landed to secure them at least bronze, I could not have been more overjoyed for Chris and Gabby. I was still shaking with adrenaline when they came to me for an interview in the mixed zone.

That moment, without a doubt, was the highlight of my career covering badminton to date. In this industry, there is no better feeling than watching British success first-hand.

Fast forward to finals day and it was Viktor Axelsen I was cheering on, but not for the reason you may think.

While interviewing him on the phone some weeks prior to the Championships, I had realised that should he win in Glasgow, he would become the first European to win world men’s singles gold in 20 years.

Back then, in 1997, it was fellow Dane Peter Rasmussen who took to the top step of the podium – the championships being held in Glasgow that year too.

It was a full-circle story that I so wanted to write, so when Axelsen’s hands flew to his head upon realising he had won, I had a smile on my face for a very different reason.

That’s why sports journalism is a funny career. You start out as a fan, but you soon become more obsessed with what’s going to be written on the blank page in front of you.

Reporters from all over the world descended on Glasgow throughout the week, some only arriving for the latter stages of the tournament.

The media centre was on an entirely separate floor of the Emirates Arena to the public areas, a peaceful sanctuary from the bustling scenes above.

It meant we had unrivalled access to the players, often walking in with them on a morning and clambering on the same bus as them on a night. I got in a lift with P.V. Sindhu, and stood behind Chen Long in the cafeteria queue.

Covering big events like this is why I became a sports journalist. There is no buzz quite like interviewing an athlete after they’ve achieved their life dream, and covering the World Championships was an experience I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.