World championship success could be key to future funding

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter

World championship silver medallists Imogen Bankier and Chris Adcock say they hope their success will help safeguard the future of UK badminton.

After several years of disappointing results, a nadir was reached in December when badminton became the only summer Olympic sport to have its funding cut by UK Sport.

Bankier said she was "immensely proud" of her achievement with Adcock.

Their performance will help during the next UK Sport funding review.

Whilst badminton will not receive an instant financial boost, the world championship silver medal will certainly aid the sport's appeal for more money.

Badminton currently receives just under £8m in the four-year Olympic cycle - entitled "Mission 2012"external-link - which ends in March 2013.

It will then be replaced by "Project Rio 2016".

"It's good... that we demonstrated we have young players who can compete at the highest level," said Badminton England and GB performance director Jens Grill.

"However, I don't think of results as 'great, we've saved our funding now - (UK Sport) you have to continue to support us'.

"Obviously we have to demonstrate and give them some belief that this is not a one-off," Grill told BBC Sport.

The badminton programme drew criticism from 2004 Athens silver medallist Nathan Robertson, who wrote on Twitterexternal-link: "World class performance needs world class support, average treatment gets an average outcome" after his opening round defeat with Jenny Wallwork at the World Championships at Wembley Arena.

But Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy defended the sport, insisting their preparations had been "the most intense" in many years.

Grill went further and explained that an in-depth review, conducted earlier this year, now sees the entire squad train together most days of the week.

He also insisted that there is greater cohesion between coaches, psychologists and physiotherapists - ensuring the individual needs of athletes are met.

"The set-up for me in England and Scotland for Imogen have now come together as Team GB and we're showing that it works," Adcock told BBC Sport.

In April, 2004 Athens silver medallist Gail Emms insisted badminton should 'expect nothing in 2012'.

Grill admits that despite the world silver medal, a "lot of work" needs to be done before they can consider Olympic podiums.

"We have a lot of players with yet-unfulfilled potential."

"In order to win a medal, we need to have more than one pair who are capable of it - so we may need three or four potential quarter-finalists before we can start thinking about winning anything," Grill told BBC Sport.

Badminton has set a minimum target of reaching one quarter-final at the London Games but even qualifying for the Olympics will not be straightforward for Adcock and Bankier.

A top-16 world ranking at the end of the Olympic qualification period in May next year would qualify one pair, but attaining a second place requires both GB teams to be ranked within the top eight.

Robertson and Wallwork are currently 11thexternal-link, with Adcock and Bankier 16th.

"We've had fantastic results at the Worlds, but we now need to back up those performances - if we do that the points should take care of themselves," Bankier told BBC Sport.

Adcock added: "There's a couple of good pairs that we need to get past, but I think if we carry on going the way we are that we can make it to London and hopefully achieve something better (than a silver)."

The players have an intense 10 weeks ahead, first travelling to the Far East for tournaments in Japan and then China, before returning to Europe for competitions in France, Denmark and Germany.

Their last chance of attaining Olympic qualification points will be the 2012 European Championshipsexternal-link, staged from 16-21 April, in Sweden.

BBC Sport goes behind the scenes at the National Badminton Centre with Adcock and Bankier in the next British Olympic Dreams programme on 17 September at 2.30pm on BBC One.

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