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A strong English contingent are aiming to end 2021 on a high as the badminton year comes to a thrilling conclusion with the World Championships in Huelva.

England have a proud history of podium finishes at the showpiece event, from Nora Perry and Jane Webster’s gold in 1980 to Chris and Gabby Adcock’s bronze in Glasgow four years ago, and the current crop are hoping to etch their names into folklore come December 19.

The highest seeded English entrants are Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith, who go in as sixth seeds in the mixed doubles.

The pair have not yet got past the third round in two previous visits to the World Championships and enter at the second round stage this year, where they will take on either Japan’s Kyohei Yamashita and Naru Shinoya or the USA’s Mathew Fogarty and Isabel Zhong.

Entering at the first hurdle in the mixed doubles are World Championship debutants Callum Hemming and Jess Pugh, who are looking to cap a fine year in style.

The duo enter in fine form, having won the Scottish Open and finished runners-up at the Welsh Open in recent weeks, and will be confident going into their match with the world number 61-ranked pair Simon Leung and Gronya Somerville.

Hemming is also in action in the men’s doubles alongside Steven Stallwood as the pair tick off another bucket list event.

“We’re buzzing for our first World Championships – it’s a tournament everyone wants to play,” Hemming told us last month.

“Having the chance to do that is another dream come true – we’ve been training our whole lives for moments like this.”

They begin against Godwin Olofua and Anuoluwapo Juwon Opeyori, the Nigerian pair ranked 53rd in the world, with 16th seeds Ji Ting He and Qiang Tan lying in wait for the victors in the second round.

Ben Lane and Sean Vendy, who fell at the first hurdle on their World Championship bow in 2019, are seeded 13th and enter at the second round stage.

The withdrawal of the Indonesian team from the tournament due to concerns around Covid-19 has spared Lane and Vendy a potential third round match with top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, and the English pair will hope to go deep in Spain.

Chloe Birch and Smith are ninth seeds in the women’s doubles and go in at the second round stage.

Victory there could see them face Bulgaria’s Stoeva sisters in the third round and Birch and Smith will be determined to set the record straight after losing to them in last week’s BWF World Tour Finals and the European Championships earlier this year.

In the men’s singles, Toby Penty begins his fifth World Championships against France’s Toma Popov.

The two men have played each other on three occasions before, Popov winning twice, and now meet for the first time since 2019 in a men’s singles draw lacking Kento Momota.

The world number one would have been bidding for a third straight World Championship crown but has withdrawn due to injury.

The action begins on Sunday, December 12 and runs through to December 19.

The YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships return to Utilita Arena Birmingham with the best players from around the world from 16th – 20th March 2022.

Don’t miss out, get your tickets today.

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