By Badminton England and Badminton Scotland
What a week of badminton action we witnessed at the 2023 European Games! While our athletes express that there were many ups and downs, as spectators and fans we truly admire the preparation, determination and high-level performance of all our athletes throughout the competition – we are so proud!
The Team GB Badminton squad will bring home four medals:
- Silver in the Men’s Doubles for Ben Lane and Sean Vendy
- Bronze in the Men’s Doubles for Adam Hall and Alex Dunn
- Bronze in the Women’s Singles for Kirsty Gilmour
- Bronze in the Mixed Doubles for Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith.
Women’s Singles Semi-Final Recap
In the women’s singles semi-finals, Gilmour claimed bronze after losing out to reigning European champion and three-time world champion Carolina Marin of Spain (who went onto win gold).
You could feel the tension during the match for the two off-court friends who went head to head for a place in the final. There were some epic rallies but Carolina was too clinical on the day, with Kirsty saying:
“Carolina was near perfect today. I did what I could, but I think she’s on pretty good form after the Asia run.
I’m happy that I’ve done it of my own accord, I’ve done it in my own way, and I’ve changed some things and I’ve improved some things, and I’m really excited for what’s to come after this.”
Gilmour won silver last time out in Minsk and now adds a bronze medal to her European Games collection as she lost 21-13 21-11 to Marin, who has beaten her in three previous European Championship finals.
Gilmour said: “The quality of badminton right now in women’s singles is so high, so to be on this podium again this year, I’m happy.
“I’ll take a bronze for Team GB any day. If someone had offered me that at the start of this event, I’d have signed on the dotted line there and then.”
On her European Games experience, Kirsty told us:
“It’s been a pretty good experience, but pretty tough with the journey that we’ve had – we’ve got 90 minutes from the village to here each day, so to play one match you’re looking at six hours of your day, whereas normally it’s a bit more efficient than that. To be part of Team GB this time round… it’s been a really nice feeling. It normally is nice, but it’s been a really tight-knit feeling. We’ve crossed paths with quite a lot of the other sports – it’s nice to ask silly questions about their sports, they can ask us silly questions about ours. It’s been a really nice time, I can’t complain”.
Men’s Doubles Semi-Final Recap
Alexander Dunn and Adam Hall booked their place in the last four with an impressive 21-11 21-12 victory over Melker Zickerman-Bexell and Joel Hansson, requiring just 26 minutes to overcome the Swedish pair.
The pair take home a bronze medal after a 21-13 16-21 21-10 defeat to Danish top seeds Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in the semi-final.
Alex gave us his post match reaction:
“Unfortunately disappointed, we didn’t come here for bronze we came here for gold. I thought our form was more than capable of getting the gold, and obviously a very tough match today they are the favourites to win so it’s not as if we let ourselves down but yeah I think we wanted more –especially coming off that comeback in the second set and that momentum we didn’t really capitalise in the third, so yeah disappointed”.
Looking ahead, Alex told us: “We’re in I guess the middle of an Olympic qualifying year, and we’ve actually got a bit of a break now which is needed coming off the back of four weeks in Asia before this so it’s been a really busy period. We’ll go back, rest up and have world champs in seven weeks I believe and that’s a very big part of the calendar so we want to perform well there”.
Men’s Doubles Final Recap
Ben Lane and Sean Vendy earned men’s doubles silver at the European Games after running top seeds Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen close in a thrilling final in Krakow.
The Danish pair claimed the opener 21-15 but Lane and Vendy roared back in the second, opening up an early lead and maintaining it throughout, ultimately closing it out 21-19.
Lane and Vendy were looking to keep European Games gold in Britain’s possession, Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge having come out on top in Minsk four years ago, and battled back from an early deficit in the decider to set up a grandstand finish.
The third game was locked at 19-19 but Astrup and Rasmussen won consecutive points to seal a nail-biting contest.
Lane said: “Of course we wanted the gold and we were so close, just parts of the match let us down.
“We probably didn’t really perform to our best but credit to them because they made us do that.
“We stuck in there, showed fighting spirit when we were down in the third game to come all the way back but it’s fine lines losing by two points.”
Vendy added: “We played a really solid game and we didn’t get the gold medal but we’ve got to be proud of ourselves.
“We’re pushing each other to be better every day and hopefully we can just go from strength to strength.”
Mixed Doubles Semi-Final Recap
Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith claimed bronze in the mixed doubles in a rematch of the mixed doubles semi-final in 2019. Ellis and Smith were beaten 21-18 14-21 21-18 by French pairing Thom Gicquel and Delphine Delrue.
The defending champions Smith and Ellis let a six-point lead slip in the first game as Gicquel and Delrue fought back to take the game 21-18.
The British duo forced a decider as they took an early lead in the second game and never relinquished it, consistently denying their opponents a foothold in the game.
The third game again saw Delcrue and Gicquel fight back, this time from a four-point deficit, to close out the game and the match and deny Smith and Ellis a shot at a second European Games gold.
Smith and Ellis take home the bronze medal to add to their silver and three bronzes from previous European Championships as a pairing.
“Right now, we are really disappointed as we played some top-level stuff there,” Smith said.
“There were parts where we played our best and were the best pair on court, they just did it a little bit more consistently.
“At those key moments, they turned the first set around from quite a deficit and played really well at the end of that third, really aggressively and just put us on the back foot.
“Disappointed that we couldn’t respond better, we couldn’t step up and push them back but that is credit to them.”
Women’s Doubles Quarter-Final Recap
Following a strong run of matches, Julie MacPherson and Ciara Torrance were defeated by French pair Lambert and Tran (21-13 16-21 21-13) in the quarter finals.
Julie gave us her post match reaction:
“I think we’ve really enjoyed the experience, we were kind of seeded to get to the quarter final but obviously we came here and wanted to get a medal so we are feeling quite disappointed right now.
I’m proud of how we fought in that match I think we gave everything we had there – even though we lost we can be quite pleased with our performance there”. Ciara added: “I’d second that, I think we’ve shown what kind of level we are at in this match especially. Even the couple of sets we lost, there was quite a big gap and every rally was to the death almost so we can only be proud of what we’ve done. It’s always quite an experience coming to a big multisport event like this and it gives you a taste of hopefully what’s to come if we keep working”.
We want to say a huge well done to every single player in the Team GB badminton squad, we are all very proud of your achievements this week!
All images owned by Team GB