28 November 2018
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Sportsister meets Gail Emms and Donna Kellogg

August 1, 2008

Badminton stars Gail Emms and Donna Kellogg will be once again teaming up for the women’s doubles as well as going against each other in the mixed doubles in Beijing.

gail-emms-donna-kellogg.pngFor many people Gail Emms and mixed doubles partner Nathan Robertson’s silver in Athens 2004 was a highlight of the Games. They may have lost the nail biting final but it is still Great Britain’s highest ever result in badminton. Their eyes will be firmly on gold this year.

And they will be up against British team mates Donna Kellogg and partner Anthony Clark, who won gold at the 2008 World Championships, beating Emms and Robertson along the way.

But all rivalry is put aside when the girls team up in the Ladies Doubles. They got to the Round of 16 in 2004 and will be looking to better this in Beijing.

What would you say to girls that were thinking of taking up badminton?

Gail Emms: Go for it, do it! Badminton is a great sport to take up because it’s sociable, you can play with your friends, or join a club, meet new people – lots of future relationships have been formed on the badminton court!.

Also you can find someone at your level and you can work at whatever you want to do; if you want to have an easy hit you can, if you want to work hard you can. It’s a great way for all over fitness, it works your arms, it works your legs, tones your stomach and gives you a very toned bum from all that lunging!

How are you both feeling about another Olympics as doubles partners?

Donna Kellogg: We’re very excited and pleased to be going to another Olympic games. Myself and Gail have been playing together for seven years, getting to the Olympics together is a dream for us both and now we have to go there and just try and kick some ass, don’t we? There wont be much European representation there, so we are there doing it for Europe really.

Gail Emms: We’re doing it for the blonds! Actually we will be the only blonds in the competition as the other Europeans are brunettes and all the Asians have dark hair!

How does it feel to be partners in one game and then opponents and rivals in the mixed doubles?

Gail Emms: We have to share a room when we are competing, so I am always keeping an eye on Donna to make sure she doesn’t sabotage my game! But seriously, we are professional athletes so when we are on court we are there to do a job, but once we are off court it’s back to being friends again.

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You have both got very tough draws in the first round of the mixed doubles how are you feeling about that?

Emms and partner Nathan Robertson have drawn the number two seeds, China’s Zheng Bo and Gao Li, in the opening round of the competition in Beijing. Gao Li is one half of the partnership that beat them to win gold at Athens 2004, and the Chinese pairing beat the Brits four times last year.

Gail Emms: It’s a bad draw for them. They’re at their home Olympic Games and in their home country, so the pressure and the expectations are all on them. We knew we were going to face a tough pair because we’re not seeded. They know they’ll have to work very hard to beat us. We’re feeling confident and I’m really, really looking forward to it. We’ve won the Worlds, the Commonwealths and the Europeans, the only thing missing is the Olympic gold. I feel this is the best chance we’ve got to do that.

Kellogg and Clark also have a tough opening round draw against another Chinese pair – the number four seeds He Hanbin and Yu Zang.

Donna Kellogg: It’s a difficult draw, but you might as well take them on in the first round as the semi-final or final. If we want to win a medal, we’ll have to beat some of the best pairs in the world. We’ll go out there and give it a go. I’m sure they wouldn’t have wanted us in the first round. If I was them I’d be quite worried. It would be awesome to meet Gail and Nathan in the final. We want to get gold and silver – that’s our goal, but there’s a long way to go.
Which do you prefer the training or the competing?

Donna Kellogg: I consider training a means to an end really. We work very hard in our training. We’re competitive and we really want to win, so if we don’t train hard and were not professional off the court then we are not going to get the success and the results we want.

And how do you deal with the pressure of a major tournament?

Donna Kellogg: Well, we have been to quite a few now, so we are experienced in those circumstances. It doesn’t really phase us going to an Olympic Games, and hopefully we will be able to go there and treat it as just another tournament. We have been to China many times so we are used to the culture and know what to expect from the crowd, so we feel ready.

If you weren’t playing badminton do you think you would still be playing sport?

Donna Kellogg: I used to play netball a lot, but badminton took over because I was a bit more successful at that from a young age. But I think that if I didn’t have a teacher that was interested in badminton then I would have played netball.

Gail Emms: For me it would have been hockey. I got to the stage where I had to choose between hockey and badminton and I was just doing better in badminton.

Are there any other sportswomen that you admire?

Gail Emms: I like all of them, I think any sportswomen is worth looking up to. But Sally Gunnell and Tessa Sanderson are in my mind from when I was a little kid watching the Olympics on TV and seeing them on the podium. And Kelly Holmes and Paula Radcliffe too, who are both amazing athletes. I admire that they are all just lovely, normal people too, they are not arrogant at all. They have just achieved their goals by loving their sport and working hard at it.

Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Look out for Gail and Donna competing in Beijing. Badminton starts on August 9th.

Photo credits: BadmintonPhoto.com

More Olympic hopefuls on Sportsister:

Marathon Runner – Liz Yelling

Badminton – Tracy Hallam

Cycling – Victoria Pendleton

Heptathlon – Kelly Sotherton

400m – Nicola Sanders

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