London 2012: Chris Adcock & Imogen Bankier set for GB call

By Jessica CreightonOlympic sports reporter

When Imogen Bankier and Chris Adcock won an unexpected mixed doubles silver medal at the World Championships last August, they had only been playing together for 10 months.

They became the top British pair in the world rankings soon after and have never looked back.

The duo now sit in prime position to reach their first Olympics when the squad is named on Wednesday, at the expense of three-time Olympian Nathan Robertson and his girlfriend and playing partner Jenny Wallwork.

While most elite athletes would argue that luck has nothing to do with their success, in Adcock and Bankier's case, it does.

Adcock originally played alongside his fiancee Gabby White, but it was decided by the Olympic coaches that her style would be better suited to Robert Blair and they would stand more chance of qualifying for the London Olympics.

As it happens, it was the pairing of Adcock and Bankier that proved to be the better combination, defeating reigning Olympic champions and top seeds throughout the last 19 months.

"Chris and Imogen are very confident," British Badminton coach Peter Jeffrey, who has tutored the duo since their inception, told BBC Sport.

"The World Championships result enforced their self-belief and now they know they can achieve big things in badminton. They're learning all the time."

As effortless as it seems now, with the Anglo-Scot pair placed at a career-best 10th in the world rankings, they have had to graft. Only two other pairs in the world's top 10 have played more than Adcock and Bankier's 19 tournaments this season.

"It's never going to be smooth with so many competitions. You can't perform in every one even though you want to," said Jeffrey.

"There's definitely been moments where they've lost matches they thought they should have won.

"At the beginning of the qualification process, in June last year, we went to Singapore and Indonesia and they lost in the first round of both tournaments.

"So it wasn't a great start for them.

"We just needed to work hard on certain areas and improve the consistency."

Putting the pair together might have been lucky, but once the partnership flourished and started performing against the world's best, how do you keep that momentum going?

"That's the million dollar question," said Jeffrey. "There's different parts of it - the approach, the mental side, working on technique so it doesn't break down under pressure.

"Chris and Imogen get on very well off court and they did a lot of work with the psychologist on how to get the best out of that on court.

"Chris is a very fast and attacking player, and very powerful in the rear court. Imogen is a full-out front-court player and, as well as finishing off opportunities Chris creates in the rear, she can also gain the attack with her net play."

As important as it is for Adcock and Bankier to gel on court, cohesion between players and coach is just as important, as 2004 Olympic silver medallist Robertson found to his detriment this year.

"I'm not like a dictator, we work closely as a three," said Jeffrey. "They will have input, I will have input and then we will agree a plan. I will lead that plan going forward and then drive them forward in achieving it.

"We would work on something, it improves, and then we re-analyse where we are and then choose another thing to work on. We haven't yet come across something where it's failed."

Top Stories