Olympic medallist serves up a treat

Olympic badminton medallist Gail Emms coaching children at Helenswood Sports Centre, The Ridge.'03.07.11.'Picture by: TONY COOMBES PHOTOGRAPHY 'Gail Emms at Helenswood Sports Centre
Olympic badminton medallist Gail Emms coaching children at Helenswood Sports Centre, The Ridge.'03.07.11.'Picture by: TONY COOMBES PHOTOGRAPHY 'Gail Emms at Helenswood Sports Centre

Gail Emms, one of Britain’s all-time great badminton players, served up a treat in Hastings on Sunday.

The Olympic medallist helped deliver an exclusive Badminton Masterclass to aspiring players at Helenswood Sports Centre.

Emms’ former mixed doubles partner Nathan Robertson was ill and unable to attend, but Julian Robertson, who used to coach the pair and who now coaches at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes, was a great replacement.

The Masterclass was split into two age related sessions, with 24 primary school aged players from 9.30-11.30am, followed by 24 secondary school players and adults from 12noon-2pm.

The sessions started with a warm-up lasting 20 minutes taken by England fitness and conditioning coach Andy Allford.

The players in each session were divided into three groups. Emms worked on pre-match hitting routines and serving, Robertson worked on hitting at targets, doubles movement and rotation around the court, while Allford focused on footwork reaction and movement.

Later on in each session, Robertson took the boys and Emms led the girls in a knockout until only one player was left. The surviving boy partnered Emms and the girl teamed up with Robertson in a friendly match up to 11 points.

Every player received a signed photo of Robertson and Emms, who also signed shirts, shoes, bags and posed for photos.

Nathan Robertson and Emms won silver in the mixed doubles at the 2004 Olympics, and gold at the 2004 European Championships, 2006 World Championships and 2006 Commonwealth Games.

The full article will appear in Friday’s Hastings Observer.