Toby Penty may not currently be the first name people think of when it comes to English Badminton – with the likes of Rajiv Ouseph and Chris Adcock starring from a Team England perspective – but the 23-year-old I likely to be one of the future stars of English badminton.
The Birmingham Lions captain, from Milton Keynes, is currently celebrating having recently guided his team to the National Badminton League Championships, an unexpected achievement for the midlands-based team.
“We weren’t favourites to go in and win it so when it happened there was about two minutes of pure shock more than anything. Now it has sunk in we are really happy and can’t believe what an incredible season we have had.” Said Penty.
“The NBL Championships is important in terms of momentum for other tournaments and also we don’t get to experience that winning team environment very often so it’s a great feeling. It’s becoming more and more important and as it goes along every season hopefully the NBL is going to become more important.”
Following on from his recent success, Toby is aware that the next four years are vital for his career, especially with the prospect of a Commonwealth medal on the cards.
“This Thursday the men’s team flies out to China for the World Men’s Team Champs and then I am away hopefully in America and Canada in July to help the guys prepare for Rio before going into the next four year cycle and pushing on towards the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“Gold Coast 2018 is a massive aim; I will be looking ahead to the Gold Coast next and following that, Tokyo 2020. I think that I have got a realistic goal of making them and doing well.
“They are already on my mind and in six months’ time, the Commonwealth Games will really be the focus of my attention.”
Despite not competing at Glasgow 2014, it was then that Penty realised his ambitions and dreams of competing at the Commonwealth Games.
“I wasn’t at Glasgow but I saw it and in Badminton we don’t get the chance to represent Team England very often but seeing how big the crowds were and how passionate everyone was about it made me want to get a piece of that and hopefully win a couple of medals as well. Hopefully in two years’ time that’s where I will be.
“Representing England means everything to me; it’s the reason I got into playing and is the biggest honour. To be able to wear any sort of England shirt is a massive feeling of pride for me and I want to go out and represent my country as best as I can. I want to make everyone back in England proud of what I am doing.
“What I love about England is that we love an underdog, love achieving when it doesn’t look like it is going to happen we always get behind them and behind the ‘little guy’. Badminton isn’t the biggest sport and when these big events come we always feel the passion of the crowds and people turn out to support us no matter what.”