Wimbledon’s Toby Penty admits the prospect of missing out on his sport’s oldest competition is a difficult hit to take.
But he’s determined that his watching brief at the YONEX All England Championships will motivate him to crack the world’s top 20 – with the countdown to the Tokyo Olympics coming into sharper focus.
Penty, 26, is currently ranked 51st in the world, meaning no invite to the prestigious event in Birmingham but he insists he’s still on the right track.
“I’ve been going to the All England since I was 11 and you want that chance to play there,” he said.
“With all those years of history, outside the Olympics, it’s the biggest thing in our sport, especially for an English player.
“I have such fond memories of being a spectator as a kid and that only motivates you to get there as a player. You could avoid it but I’m planning on going for a day, just to give me the hunger after missing out.”
Penty won the Scottish Open in 2017 and banked tournament wins in Slovenia and Belgium last year and picked up his maiden English nationals title in High Wycombe last summer.
However, he missed out on the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, where England took team bronze.
“I’ve proved I can do it, I just need to step it up again in 2019,” he added.
“Olympic qualifying is the big thing for me right now. I’m probably not favourite to go but I would like to have a chance to try and put myself in a position to qualify. I’ve cracked the top 50 so the next goal is the top 25 – then I’m right in contention.
“I know it might take a little bit of time, and during Olympic qualifying the tournament competition is going to be really strong, but I think I can do it.
“For me it’s staying on top of the injuries and keeping on top of everything mentally. I still think I’ve got a good chance of doing that.”
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