English National Badminton Championships 2012
03-05 February, Bolton Arena

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[ CLARK - retiring, but ... ] ROBERTSON - the last one ] CANN - aims to regain ] RAJ - seeking a handful ] DRAWS released ] SEEDS announced ] PREVIEW ]

Clark retired but record-hunting
Richard Eaton

Anthony Clark has retired from international badminton. But he has not retired his hopes of winning another national men’s doubles, something which would equal the record of ten titles achieved by Mike Tredgett in this event.

After saying goodbye to an outstanding professional career in November, Clark had a couple of months, he admits, when he didn’t pick up a racket. So there is no way he will be up to the speed he was.

Nor will he play in the style he did when winning World silver medals in men’s and mixed doubles in Madrid back in 2006, or reaching the All-England final in mixed with Donna Kellogg, or capturing the only Super Series title England has ever won, the Singapore Open in 2009, when he and Nathan Robertson defeated the Olympic champions Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan.

The odds are against him winning that tenth title. Moreover is playing with another England international who has retired from the professional game, Kristian Roebuck. So why is he doing it?

Perhaps partly because Clark was denied a strong chance of a tenth title last year as Robertson’s partner when he withdrew after being hit in the eye in practice, and certainly partly because of the buzz.

“The nationals were always an important tournament for me,” he said. “It was a bit of a stepping stone to bigger and bigger things. If you can’t win the national title how can you expect to go on track of the best players in the world? So I always put a lot of emphasis on that tournament, and put pressure on myself.

“I have been favourite to win in the last ten years, probably. So you have everything to lose and not a lot to gain, but I still loved playing and winning it. I put a lot of pressure on myself. This year all the pressure is on everyone else!”

Those who think that Clark’s partnership with Roebuck, with whom he has never played before, is rather an unexpected one, don’t know the personal history.

They have known each other since they were children in Derbyshire, the families are still close friends, Roebuck was Clark’s best man when he was married, and they have practised together often.

“It’s a shame we never actually played together because he was a very, very good player, and never had the opportunity to show what he was capable of,” Clark says.

“We are very, very close. So we will have a nice time and a nice weekend. And if we don’t win we will enjoy ourselves."

So it may be fun, and it may be the lure of adrenaline which is motivating them. But don’t rule out the possibility of them causing a surprise.

“We could go there and find that the top two seeds, professional players, are too quick and strong for us,” Clark admitted, referring to the favourites Chris Adcock and Andy Ellis and the second seeds, Chris Langridge and Peter Mills.

“I kind of expect that, but if we use a bit of common sense and nous, maybe we can upset them a little bit. So that’s what we will try and do. It’s not just about speed and power, and that’s what we will bring to the table.

“I had a couple of months when I just enjoyed myself, but I have been playing quite a lot in the last few weeks. I had so much pain throughout my body in the last two years, and now I am getting out of bed and feel I am not hurting.

“It will be interesting to see what I am still capable of. Anything could happen!”

Richard Eaton

[ CLARK - retiring, but ... ] ROBERTSON - the last one ] CANN - aims to regain ] RAJ - seeking a handful ] DRAWS released ] SEEDS announced ] PREVIEW ]

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