14th October 2016
Writing: Thomas Fleetwood-Law (Year 11)
Photography: Flo Copp (Year 12)
Editing: Joshua Robey (Year 12)
This week, Challoner’s was visited by retired professional badminton-player and former world champion Gail Emms. The Olympic silver medallist gave a talk in the Milton Library for Years 11 to 13 about her experience with the sport. She spoke about how her mother motivated her by constantly playing against her - a rivalry emerging between the mother and daughter. She went on to talk about the personal sacrifices that come with pursuing a sport to such a high level.
She asked us about our own ‘Olympic moments’: times when we were inspired by what we saw at the Games, whether in Rio, London or even as far back as Beijing in 2008. She talked about her personal ‘Olympic moment’ - when she saw Sally Gunnell win gold in the 400m hurdles in 1992. It was at this moment, when aged just 15, that she decided that she wanted to stand on the podium herself.
After training constantly for eight long years, she narrowly missed out on going to Sydney in 2000. Nevertheless, her unwavering dedication held out and, in 2004, she went to Athens to represent Team GB in badminton. In the mixed doubles, she and her partner Nathan Robertson narrowly lost out in the final, coming home with the silver medal.
Four years later, this time in Beijing, they came up against the same Chinese doubles pair in the first round. However, on this occasion they beat them, only to be cheered by the sole voices of their parents amongst the silent disapproval of over 10,000 home Chinese supporters. Unfortunately, Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson were defeated in the second round by a South Korean pairing.
During the talk, she passed her two medals around. When asked where she kept them, she revealed that she’s put them in a bag she nicked from an airline - and that occasionally even she forgets where they are! Afterwards, she was led to the sports hall, where she saw DCGS’ own badminton squad training.
Thanks must of course go to Gail Emms, as well as to Mr Cadman, and the rest of the PE Team for organising this event.