New dad Rajiv Ouseph might be struggling with sleepless nights but he’s also dreaming of success at badminton’s oldest competition.
The British number one is looking ahead with confidence to the YONEX All England Championships next month and is determined to improve on his previous best performance in Birmingham, a run to the men’s quarter-finals.
Ouseph is ranked 23rd in the world but knows he can mix it with the best after reaching two finals on badminton’s World Tour three years ago.
And considering a home player hasn’t won at the event, which celebrates its 109th edition this year, since 2005 – the pressure is on.
“I remember attending the tournament when I was 10-years-old, outside the Olympics, it’s the highlight of our careers. It’s very prestigious and has a lot of history,” said Ouseph, who recently added another national title to his resume.
“I would come with my family to watch Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms and it’s too long since they won for the British fans really.
“It’s not often we get to play any tournaments in front of our home crowd, who are definitely a real help.
“It’s also a bit of mix of nerves, wanting to do really well with your friends and family there watching, so it can be a bit tough. It’s just managing the pressure and expectation.
“I feel I’m doing good and training is going well and another national title is a big boost too. For me it’s about consistency, I need to put everything together in consecutive matches and then I won’t be too far away.”
At 32, Ouseph, who reached the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics where he was defeated by eventual bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen, is one of the elder statesmen of the English team.
And while fatherhood is keeping him young, he likes what he sees in the next generation too.
“We’ve got a nice blend in the team and the guys coming through are certainly keeping me on my toes,” he added.
“Hopefully competing at this event will only accelerate their development as players, having this event on home soil is a tremendous privilege for us.”
The 2019 YONEX All England – Badminton’s Greatest Show on the sport’s world tour – will wow fans at Arena Birmingham, 6-10 March. For tickets and information: www.allenglandbadminton.com or search All England tickets
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