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Ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, we are taking a look at the Team England debutants hoping to shine on the badminton court at the NEC.

First up is Freya Patel-Redfearn.

You’ll be hard pressed to find another athlete more excited about joining Team England than Freya Patel-Redfearn.

After only making her BWF Tour debut last year, the 2022 Commonwealth Games will cap off a whirlwind 18 months for the Londoner.

She will compete for England both in the women’s singles and team event, and although it is her first multi-sport event, the significance is not lost on her.
The steely shuttler has a real determination to make her country proud in Birmingham.

“Not everyone gets to do this, even some really talented players,” she said.

“So when you get the opportunity it feels extra special. When you are competing regularly, playing for England in a multi-sport event is something you always want to strive for.

“For the last few years, knowing that the Games were going to be held in Birmingham and that I could potentially be in the team, it was a really exciting goal for me to have.

“It has spurred me on over the last couple of years for sure.

“I’m just so proud to get selected by the team and can’t wait to get going.”

At 21, Patel-Redfearn is the youngest of the nine-person badminton squad who will be donning the Team England red this summer.

She was training at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes when she found out the news, and even though she only had to wait a few days for the announcement to go public, it was still difficult to keep it secret.

“I told some close friends and family but it was nice to share it with everyone,” she explained.

“My parents were very excited and my brothers, who have all been really supportive throughout this journey with me.”

She may be the baby of the team, but Patel-Redfearn does have major championship experience from the 2021 Europeans in Kyiv where she made it through to the third round and gave third seed Yvonne Li a huge scare before eventually exiting.

However, taking to court in Birmingham in front of a home crowd will be unlike anything she has previously experienced.

Thankfully, with a nice blend of youth and experience across the English shuttlers, she knows her squad mates are there for help and advice when required.

“We’ve got a lot of experience in the team as well that I can learn from,” she added.

“It’s nice to have that. A few of the senior players have told me just to enjoy it and that I’ve got nothing to lose so make the most of the experience.

“It’ll be such an amazing atmosphere so I really want to take that all in.

“I’ve got some extended family heading over there for a few days so I want to make sure I spot them in the crowd.”

Patel-Redfearn will also be going into the Games with real confidence on the back of a breakthrough year that saw the West Londoner take some big steps in the senior ranks.

Now she wants to become known as a major event player after producing some of her strongest badminton at the European Championships last year.
Although she knows the mixed team event will be tricky with England drawn in the same group as Singapore, Patel-Redfearn is keen to contribute as the team looks to improve on the bronze won in the Gold Coast four years ago.

She added: “The Europeans (in 2021) was a big moment for me and I’ve been part of some team events for England which I think will be a really important experience ahead of Birmingham.

“In the European mixed team I’ve had some of my best performances, so hopefully that continues this summer. That is something I am wanting to take into the Commonwealths.

“I know Singapore will be tough, but I’m definitely aiming to produce some of my best performances and believe I can contribute with wins.

“Reaching the semi-final in Wales (at the Welsh International) last year was another big moment, I took a lot of confidence from that.”

That was the moment the youngster really showed her potential on the international stage, knocking out third seed Yaëlle Hoyaux of France on her way to the last four.

If she can repeat that level of performance going forward, nothing should be off the table

A dominant force at youth level, the level-headed shuttler knew time was needed to adapt to the senior level.

But Patel-Redfearn believes she is getting to grips with the adjustment.

“I think the first few years of your senior career, are always a challenge,” she added. “And I’m still in that period.

“You’re playing tougher matches against tougher, more experienced opponents and you simply won’t be winning as often or playing as regularly.

“That can be tough and takes some getting used to. But I just needed to keep thinking of the bigger picture.

“Having a goal like the Commonwealth Games has really spurred me on, you’ve just got to be strong.”

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