Where are they now: Gail Emms
Date: 7/22/2020 2:29 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
When we think of Gail Emms we picture her standing with Nathan Robertson, wearing wreaths woven out of olive branches, on the Olympic podium after winning the mixed doubles silver medal in Athens 2004. 

This is still an achievement that no other European mixed doubles pair has surpassed. Two years later, in an all-English final, the pair took gold at the 2006 World Championships in Madrid. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Emms and Robertson recorded a famous victory over world number two pair, Zheng Bo/ Gao Ling, after being 12-17 down in the deciding game, winning 21-19. They were however knocked out in the quarterfinals to eventual gold medallists, Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung. Emms retired from the sport following the games. 

So where is one of the best European doubles players now?

Emms was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours for her achievements. With this fame, Emms became involved with TV and radio, becoming a regular guest on BBC Radio 5’s ‘Fighting Talk’, as well as an appearance on the popular TV sports-based panel show ‘A Question of Sport’. 

Utilising her unique position and experiences, Emms has been working on building up the ‘Gail Emms Consultancy’, which aims to maximise potential in people with motivational speaking, team building workshops and presentation skills to help confidence and self-belief.

In addition to this, Emms is the Head of Marketing at LAPS (Life After Professional Sport). An organisation which provides access to resources for current and former sports professionals who may be struggling in their day to day lives. 

This is something close to her heart and an issue that Emms has combated with herself, and believes that is an important message and needs to be spoken about. 

Basking in the glow of a standout sports career, life was good, but Emms learnt that this does not last forever. Explaining this to the BBC, she stated. 

-People offer you really good money to go and speak at conferences, or after dinner - and this happened to me. You start doing these events and you think this is brilliant, get one of these jobs two or three times a week and I'm getting really good money. 

She then goes on to say why this is not a long-term strategy. 

- But as time creeps on your name is not the first people think about. You are way down the list.

New chapter
In 2010, Emms became a mother, and in 2013 she gave birth to a second son. The same year she was appointed to the Badminton England coaching staff. However, despite another GB silver medal at Rio 2016 through Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge in the men’s doubles, and Rajiv Ouseph reaching the quarterfinals in the men’s singles, financial support for badminton from UK Sport was cut, resulting in many job losses, including Emms. 

Despite this, Emms continues strong in building her businesses further. Including entering the flexible office space market. However, most importantly, after opening up about her own depression and challenges in finding a job, she is a key player in the discussion of mental health and life after sport. 

Emms has a passion for sports PR and marketing. Having sent endless emails to people, replies have been few and far between, leading to her feeling demoralised. In 2017, she told the BBC that. 

- Everyone assumes that just because you are an Olympic medallist, you are made for life. People assume I drive a fast car. The last thing I wanted was to think about what I'm going to do when I'm 40. It's laughable.

Following such an honest and strong message from a big name like Gail Emms, there is a sense that these issues are at the very least being talked about. A chord has been struck and there is an awareness that more should and can be done. Emms continues on this journey. 

Gail Emms co-hosted the 2019 BEC Awards Gala with Deputy General Secretary Jimmy Andersen. 

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