Wimbledon badminton players face move


Britain’s brightest badminton players face moving training centres


By Ben Penty

Britain’s brightest badminton players face moving training centres after Wimbledon Racquet and Fitness Club lost its status as a High Performance Centre.

The club will lose its title as of March 2011 after a decision made by governing body, Badminton England.

Only Leeds and Bath will retain their status as High Performance Centres, primarily because of cuts in funding due to the Olympics.

Badminton England’s headquarters in Milton Keynes will continue to serve as the National Badminton Centre.

Stuart Wardell, 37, head coach at Wimbledon, believes the choice may be down to the close vicinity of both centres to a university.

He said: “Now that the funding has gone to two universities in hindsight it may have been better to have highlighted to Badminton England that there is a university ten minutes down the road.”

He also maintains that this is not the way Badminton England should be treating regional badminton clubs.

“I feel absolutely used.

“This is the wrong way the country should be going in terms of using clubs like this.

“I think sometimes clubs like this are looked upon like they will always be here and they’ll always produce players and that’s not the case.”

Daryl Jacobs, 21, England player and regular at the club, is disappointed at the decision made by Badminton England but feels there may be hidden benefits.

“They made this decision on their own, I only found out last week and I haven’t heard a word from them, they just put it upon us,” he said.

“As long as there are some good players here that will push me and as well as better me then it will still help me.

“A lot of players won’t be going, it would only be a few England boys moving for definite, and that will help me here because it will be more about me than the other top players.”

Year on year funding has been cut by £541,700, from £3.9million to £3.4million, a decrease of 14%.

Development funded places, designed for players with future potential, have been increased from 23 to 24.

It has been speculated the failure of English players to achieve any podium places at the BWF World Championships in August may be to blame.

Badminton England, however, remains resolute that the changes taking place will only serve to aid the development of young players.

Adrian Christy, Chief Executive of Badminton England, said: “Whilst the outcome of the Investment Review is disappointing, we believe it is a fair reflection on recent world level performances overall.

“Of course we all hope we can maximise qualification in 2012 and deliver medal performances.”

Vikki McPherson, Head of GB Performance, also believes podium places at the 2012 Olympics in London are not out of reach.

She said: “We do believe that the future of badminton can be a bright one.

“The sport has a real opportunity to refocus, develop talented athletes and achieve international success in the future.”

The next two years will be vital for Badminton England in convincing players that it has made the right decision.

With the Olympics looming and funding being cut, Mr Wardell thinks Badminton England could come to regret the decision.

He said: “I think they are taking a risk but I think they’ve got to do it.

“They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t at the moment.

“If there is a choice and players can choose to fund themselves then I think we can get around that.”

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