Gabby and Chris Adcock: Long Covid forces pair to miss All England badminton Championships

Husband-and-wife team Gabby and Chris Adcock
Husband-and-wife team Gabby and Chris Adcock are two-time Commonwealth Games champions
All England Badminton Championships 2021
Dates: 17-21 March Venue: Utilita Arena, Birmingham
Coverage: BBC Sport website, red button and BBC iPlayer

Gabby Adcock says the "horrendous" long-term effects of coronavirus have left her with no choice but to miss the All England Badminton Championships.

Adcock, 30, first became ill at Christmas but the impact of "long Covid" left her weak, unable to exercise properly and "exhausted".

She told BBC Sport she is not ready to compete with husband Chris at the five-day event in Birmingham from Wednesday.

"I don't want to step on court when I'm not conditioned to win," she said.

"And that's what I want to do, go into tournaments knowing I can win. I still can't smell anything, I'm looking forward to getting this back. I'm just very grateful my health is on the way up."

The mixed doubles pairing have twice won Commonwealth gold and are also two-time European Champions.

They won Great Britain's first medal at the Badminton World Championships in six years when they took bronze in Glasgow in 2017.

But the Adcocks' withdrawal from the All England Open means they will miss one of the biggest events of the year and an important competition in the build-up to the Olympics in Tokyo.

'I just couldn't catch my breath'

Gabby said she has not been able to train at anywhere near the level required to do herself justice on court - with the first signs coming three months ago.

"I just thought it was odd because I started to warm up and I saw my heart rate went through the roof. It went to 160 in a minute," she said.

"I then had a knock up with Chris and that session I just couldn't catch my breath. I just had this feeling that I had to sleep. I was absolutely exhausted. It was achy joints, achy legs and the headaches were really intense."

A month later she tried to return but soon realised it was not possible.

"I felt ok. I did some weights. And the next day I did a light bike, which for me is like nothing," she said. "But the next day I felt horrendous and the next week I just couldn't do anything.

"It massively set me back. The headaches were back and I needed sleep again. That shook me. I was clearly not over this virus and from then it was trial and error. It did shake me as to how bad it could make me feel after the bare minimum of exercise."

Chris, 31, added: "It was a shock to the system not just for us, but to everyone at Badminton England HQ because everyone knows how fit and strong Gabby is.

"Every athlete would like to go to an Olympics but it's about what's doing right health wise and there's no point pushing just to get there when you don't know what detrimental effect that could have."

All-star cast at All England Championships

England Badminton stars Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge, bronze medallists at the Olympic Games at Rio 2016, are in action in the men's doubles, while Ellis is also playing in the mixed doubles with his partner on and off the court Lauren Smith.

Scotland's Kirsty Gilmour, Jordan Hart from Wales and England's Toby Penty are all looking for success in the singles.

The international stars taking part include Spain's Olympic champion Carolina Marin and India's 2019 world champion PV Sindhu in the women's event, while the favourites for the men's title will be last year's champion and Danish Olympic bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen and current Japanese world champion Kento Momota.

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