Talented trio claim county titles

From left: Sussex Restricted Championships winners Cathy Bargh, Chris Spice and Lydia Powell.
From left: Sussex Restricted Championships winners Cathy Bargh, Chris Spice and Lydia Powell.

Three local badminton players were victorious at the Sussex Restricted Championships.

Lydia Powell and Chris Spice teamed up to win the mixed doubles, while Cathy Bargh clinched the ladies’ singles at the University of Sussex, Falmer.

It was Bargh’s first title at the county tournament having been a runner-up on numerous occasions. It was all the more remarkable given that she plays in the 55-59 age group and this was an open age event.

Bargh has won European and world medals at masters level, and said that after this result she feels she has achieved everything she can in the sport.

Powell and Spice claimed mixed doubles glory together for the first time having previously reached two finals. Spice was Powell’s mixed doubles partner when she first started playing in the event several years ago so it was a nice victory for the pair.

Twenty-one-year-old Powell, a former England player, is listed as number four in the national women’s singles rankings, but has barely played since the early part of the year.

She was one of 15 top players to lose all their funding after badminton was among seven Olympic sports to lose government funding back in February.

Powell does, however, still play at an extremely high standard in Division One of the French League and has won three of her four games so far.

Since losing her funding, Powell has made the decision to coach full-time and is head coach at the St John’s club in Tunbridge Wells, where she now lives. Last weekend she also coached Norfolk and Suffolk county players at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes.

“I love the coaching,” said Powell, who does a lot of work in schools and has helped get the club’s juniors into the county set-up. “I feel like it was probably what I was meant to do. I love giving back to the sport.”

The results from the restricted tournament will have a significant say in the make-up of the Sussex county teams to play in the national leagues during the coming season.

Bargh and Spice will will take part in the Kent Masters Gold 2017 - one of the big events of the season featuring quite a few international players - this weekend.

Bargh will line up in the over-55 women’s doubles alongside Viv Gillard, from Essex, while Spice will join forces with Sheldon Chambers in the over-40 men’s doubles.