Badminton: Scotland-England rivalry adds edge for Chris Adcock

By Ollie WilliamsOlympic sports reporter
Chris Adcock and Gabrielle White

England's Chris and Gabby Adcock target their first European badminton title this week as they pursue the world number one spot in mixed doubles.

"We believe we can get there, we have the same drive," said Gabby Adcock of a partnership ranked fifth at the moment.

The draw may set up a meeting in Kazan, Russia with Scotland's Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier.

"On our day, we're the better pair," said Chris Adcock, who partnered Bankier at London 2012.

Adcock and Bankier won an unlikely world silver medal together in 2011, but lost all three group matches at the Olympic Games in London.

Bankier subsequently left the British high-performance squad to form an all-Scottish partnership with Blair, while Adcock rejoined then-girlfriend Gabby White. The two married in 2013.

"London 2012 was the low point of my whole career," Bankier, 26, told BBC Sport. "We always thought, on our day, we could beat the best players but it just didn't happen.

"Afterwards there was a lot of focus on Rio. The Commonwealth Games weren't on Team GB's radar as we represent Scotland and England separately, but the Commonwealths is such a big event for me, in my home city."

The European draw will pitch Bankier and Blair, currently 15th in the world, against the Adcocks if both pairs reach the semi-finals. That would provide a taste of the England-Scotland rivalry likely to feature at Glasgow 2014.

"You know each other so well and there's a bit of second-guessing, but they are obviously very good players," said Chris Adcock, 24, of the Scots.

"We played them a few months ago at the German Open and they won the tournament, so you have to give them credit for how they're playing. The England-Scotland rivalry gives it an extra edge."

Bankier said: "We'll come up against English players plenty of times and it's more appealing to the public than us. It's never particularly pleasant playing people you know, it's not an encounter you look forward to.

"Playing Chris and Gabby is very much at the back of my mind at the moment. If we get to that stage I'd be extremely pleased."

Last year, the Adcocks won their first major title - the Hong Kong Open - and carried their form into 2014 by winning the Swiss Open.

Chris Adcock said: "We've not settled for where we are. The top four is the aim and the big number one after that. The gap between five and one is big but we're coming into the European Championships on good form and we want to win it.

"We've got quite a tough draw, such as the Danish pair in the second round, who are ranked world number four.

"But if you're getting to European gold then you're pretty-much putting yourself into the top four in the world, and we know our level is good enough."

China have the mixed doubles teams ranked first and third in the world, with Indonesian and Danish players rounding out the top four.

The Adcocks are seeded second for the Euros, behind Denmark's Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen, while Chris Adcock is also seeded second for the men's doubles alongside Andrew Ellis.

Bankier and Bulgaria's Petya Nedelcheva are seeded fourth together in the women's doubles, with Bankier and Blair the fourth seeds in mixed doubles.

Kirsty Gilmour is seeded second for Scotland in the women's singles, while England's Rajiv Ouseph is seeded fifth in the men's event.

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