Stephen Baddeley, Director of Sport at Team Bath and former British Badminton Team Manager at the 1992 Olympics, says athletes preparing for London 2012 will currently be experiencing a huge amount of pressure.
“Qualifying for, and then competing in the Olympics is the pinnacle of an athlete’s career and the high stakes involved can lead to a tense and stressful environment for all concerned,” said Stephen
“There are glamorous sides to competing at this level, there is a great celebratory atmosphere at the Olympics, but what I recall most vividly from 1992 was the sheer intensity.”
As a professional badminton player Stephen won numerous Commonwealth, European and national titles between 1982 and 1990. To this day he remains England’s only Commonwealth Games men’s singles gold medallist.
When badminton made its Olympic debut in 1992, Stephen took on the role of British Badminton Team Manager, having only recently retired from competing himself.
“It was a fantastic honour to manage the team during its first Olympics competition. As I had only recently retired from competing I was in the position of having played against and alongside many of the team, and had travelled the world with several of them for many years. This made managing them an extremely challenging move for both them and me.
“I learnt a lot from the experience which has benefitted me in managing national teams since.”
Stephen says that changes to the game have introduced new challenges for the British Badminton Team in 2012. “A new scoring system, has been introduced. Previously the winner was the best of three sets to 15, scoring only when you had the serve, but now the scoring is based on three sets to 21 with every rally scoring a point.
“This has made matches shorter but has the advantage of creating intensity from the very start of each game as it is very hard to recover if you fall several points behind. The downside is that the dramatic comebacks of the past no longer occur.”
The University will be hosting several teams for Pre Games Training Camps in the run up to 2012, and Stephen is looking forward to attending the games as a spectator.
“I have bought tickets to take my family to see the first weekend of the Paralympics. My children are very excited about that, especially as they see Paralympians training at the University. My son will be cheering for Ben Rushgrove – one of his favourite athletes. I will enjoy watching the Olympics on TV too and wish all those competing, especially our athletes from Bath, the very best of luck.”