Nathan Robertson is determined to bring England more Commonwealth Games medal success in badminton.
The 33-year-old, the most experienced member of the England squad with 102 international caps, will defend the mixed doubles title he won four years ago with Gail Emms and be bidding for similar success in the men’s doubles.
He will also be trying to use his and men’s doubles partner Anthony Clark’s experience to guide the younger members of the squad to a medal in the team event which starts on October 4.
But he has one other big aim in the early days of the Commonwealth Games team tournament: he wants to partner 32-year-old Clark in men’s doubles in the match when his great friend earns his 100th cap.
Clark is on 98 caps and Robertson said: “It will be fantastic for him. I will be talking to the coaches about partnering him in that match to make it extra special for him. We have been great friends for years, ever since we played for Nottinghamshire as youngsters, and have been through a lot together.”
That 100th cap could come as early as day one of the team competition as third seeds England play two Group C matches against Falkland Islands and Uganda on October 4. But Robertson knows that England will probably have to beat hosts and second seeds India in the semi-finals to reach the team final again.
England won team gold in 2002 and silver behind Malaysia in 2006 but Robertson is realistic about their chances. “Any medal will be a big success for us,” said Robertson, who along with Clark is tackling his third Commonwealth Games. “Apart from me and Anthony we are quite an inexperienced team at this level so a medal of any colour would be good.”
He fancies his chances more in the individual tournament where he and Jenny Wallwork, the European bronze medallists, will be top seeds in the mixed doubles. “It’s a slightly different scenario to four years ago with Gail. But I am very confident Jenny and I can get a medal.
"There are three or four pairs who are going for gold, a pair from Singapore, another from India and, of course, Anthony with his partner Heather Olver. But if we play our best then we can win it.”
As for the men’s doubles Robertson accepts that the Malaysian top seeds Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong are huge favourites.
“But we are second seeds,” he said “and our matches with them are always close, three sets every time. I know they don’t like playing us and we have beaten them before.”
England’s highest-ranked men’s singles player Rajiv Ouseph, who is up to a world best No 16 in the rankings, is also in medal contention but Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, last weekend’s Japan Open winner and world No. 1, will start clear favourite and he beat European bronze medallist Ouseph in last month’s World Championships in Paris.
Ouseph will be backed by world No 26 Carl Baxter, who earned a late call-up after Andrew Smith withdrew through ongoing injury problems.
In the women’s singles, National champion Elizabeth Cann, who was edged out in the bronze medal play-off by Scotland’s Susan Egelstaff four years ago when representing Jersey, will by bidding for success in England’s colours this time.
Leeds pair Wallwork and Gabby White, ranked No.22 in the world, will be in contention in the women’s doubles but have three strong pairs above them in the world rankings and European bronze medalists Olver and Mariana Agathangelou will also be in the reckoning.
SQUAD AND TEAM COMPETITION
Men: Nathan Robertson, Anthony Clark, Chris Adcock (all Notts), Rajiv Ouseph (Middx), Carl Baxter (Kent). Women: Elizabeth Cann (Jersey), Jenny Wallwork, Gabby White (both Yorks), Mariana Agathangelou (Avon) and Heather Olver (Sussex).
The seeds are: 1 Malaysia, 2 India, 3 England, 4 Singapore, 5 Canada, 6 New Zealand 7 Australia and 8 Scotland.
The groups are:
Group A: Malaysia, Australia, Nigeria, Isle of Man, Seychelles
Group B: Singapore, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Jamaica, Sri Lanka
Group C: England, Canada, Uganda, Mauritius, Falkland Islands.
Group D: India, Scotland, Wales, Barbados, Kenya