Eleanor O’Donnell

Q&A for 2022 Commonwealth Games

2022 Commonwealth Squad – Eleanor O’Donnell

Name: Eleanor O’Donnell

DOB: 01/10/1998

Hometown: Paisley (resides in Beith)

Tell us about how you first started playing badminton?

It was actually primary school where I first got into it. We had a club there. My mum and my sister played, nothing madly competitive just to get used to the sport.

How did you first make the move up to the national squad as a junior?

I was in the junior national squad from the age of 14 but was still at school at the time. I trained a few times with the senior squad during the week when I had a break from lessons. Gradually I just built up more and more, before eventually joining the seniors full-time.

The highlight of your career so far?

Probably winning the silver at European junior level, with Alex in the mixed. Also been part of the World Cup team that won bronze and going with the team to the Commonwealth Games in Australia they were both amazing trips.

What was the experience of competing at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 like, as the youngest competitor?

It was nice to go out there without any major expectations. It was quite a young team out there, so we just went wanting to see what it was like. But it was like nothing I’d experienced before – with the athletes village, different venues and everything. It was great to share the experience with athletes from other sports as well.

How did you become a doubles specialist– did you always prefer it form playing at junior level?

I actually really enjoyed playing singles when I did – up until I was 17. Once me and Julie won the UK School Games – our coach at the time, as soon as I came off the court, just told me ‘no more singles’.

From then on that it was I had to focus on. But I did enjoy playing singles, but also knew quite early my destiny was in doubles.

Ahead of Birmingham 2022 – how has the first half of your year been so far?

Me and Christopher (Grimley) had a good run from November onwards where we were playing really well and had quite a few good performances in there. We had a little dip, but the training is getting more intense now as we build up towards the Commonwealths. We’re in the full swing of things, going at it really hard. So hopefully we can be at our best level ahead of the Games in the next few weeks.

What do you like to do away from badminton, how do you switch-off when off the court?

In lockdown I started baking loads. Myself and Adam (Hall) used to FaceTime once a week and make something different every week so that was nice. Obviously, part of it was just to keep him company! But I really enjoyed it. I’ve just carried on since, I absolutely love it.

What will the rest of the season look like for you? And what are your aims?

Right now, the Commonwealth Games is the only tournament I am focusing on. I’m not sure on my goals beyond that, I’ve not had much of a set tournament plan. So right now, it’s all eyes on that.

Once that’s done, I think hopefully I can have a little time off, but everything is pointed towards Birmingham at the moment.

What are your long-term goals for the next four-five years?

I want to be part of the next Commonwealth Games in 2026. Hopefully I will have a little bit more experience after Birmingham and can really go for the next one. I would love to make a mark on the European and World Championships as well, so I’d like to have a deep run at one of those within the next few years.