Not playing in international competition for over a year could lead to worries heading into the biggest sporting event on the planet – but not for Marcus Ellis.
The Huddersfield native, who claimed bronze in the men’s doubles at the Rio Olympic Games, will once again represent Team GB this time in the mixed doubles.
And the 31-year-old thinks a lack of global tournaments over the past 18 months could actually play into his and partner Lauren Smith’s hands
“For me, the biggest thing is that it is the same for everybody, especially in badminton,” he said.
“We know that almost everybody has not been able to play competition against foreign opposition.
“When we first went back to our first tournament, it was very, very strange and for me, if that had been the Olympics, I’d have been really upset with that, because I didn’t feel like we performed so well.
“We know that some of the national teams like China, for example, this will be their first international competition for a year and four months.
“For us that that’s an open door because we don’t know what they’re going to be like, and they don’t know what we’re going to be like.
“The rankings that you saw before from one to 20, I think we’re going to see some very different results this time around across all the disciplines purely because of the pandemic.”
Ellis first took up badminton at Colne Valley Leisure Centre in Slaithwaite having been taken a long by his father John and has been on a remarkable journey since.
Linking up with men’s doubles partner Chris Langridge in 2014, the pair have been crowned the England National Championships and secured gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, alongside their Olympic medal.
This summer, the St Albans resident will feature in the mixed doubles and Ellis has a unique relationship with Smith, who is his partner on and off the court.
The couple went through lockdown together, which Ellis believes worked well for the pair:
“Throughout the lockdown period, every single person struggled at points and one thing myself and Lauren have got is one goal that’s completely mutual,” he said.
“When I wasn’t feeling so good, Lauren could pick me up and push me in the right direction and vice versa.
“I could give her motivation when she wasn’t feeling quite as motivated as well. I think for us, that was a huge positive.
“I know the idea of spending 24/7 in the same house, and then doing the same job it does seem quite intense, but it’s certainly worked for us so far.”
Recently, Smith and Ellis secured silver at the European Championships and despite the high-stakes nature of their job, the pair rarely squabble.
“I would say we’re very good,” he said. “I can’t sit here and say that we never argue because we do, but the worst thing is it is usually over the pettiest thing there’s nothing ever serious.
“I can’t give you an example, but it’s something that you’d think from the outside, why on earth would you argue about that? But in general, we’re very good!”