AS the five-time defending champion at the English National Badminton Championships Rajiv Ouseph (pictured)
knows he will only have himself to blame if he cannot extend his fantastic record next month. Ouseph has swept all before him on the domestic front in the men's singles for half a decade but failed to get beyond the first round at London 2012 this summer.
That disappointment, a narrow defeat to Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon cost him dear in the group stages, has set Ouseph back as the British no.1 has tumbled out of the top 30 in the world rankings.
The emergence of Toby Penty, currently 90th in the world rankings, will see the youngster start as second seed behind Ouseph in Manchester next month. But for Ouseph the chance to extend his winning record to six straight years in the Nationals is a challenge that he should comfortably take care of.
“The Nationals is an event I always want to win. I am proud of my run and I definitely want to keep that going,” he said.
“It’s also another great chance to see where we are in relation to the top guys in the world by the way that we play.
“It’s just a case of me playing to my level then I should win in relation to the competition. Maybe the men’s game is slightly weaker now compared to when I started first competing. It may be a lack of depth but I am confident with some of the new guys coming through that will improve soon.
“Toby Penty has come to Milton Keynes to train with us after the Olympics and looks to be a good prospect and the public should look out for him.”
For Ouseph the London 2012 hangover has proved quite an obstacle to overcome with five first-round defeats in his first six tournaments after the Olympics. But with Rio 2016 still some way away Ouseph has set his sights on breaking back into the top 16 before the Games come back around.
“I learnt from my experience in London that you want to be amongst the top guys as quickly as you can and for as long as you can so it becomes easier to qualify,” he added.
“Now it is a good opportunity to test yourself against the best guys in the world and look to improve your levels early on.”
To experience England's best players battle it out live for the title of National
Champion, visit www.nationalbadmintonchamps.co.uk
or call the box office on 0844 5811 424
Article by Charlie Talbot-Smith, Sportsbeat. Photo by BadmintonPhoto.