Marcus Ellis looking for Olympic advantage as YONEX All England gets underway

·3-min read
Marcus Ellis looking for Olympic advantage as YONEX All England gets underway

Marcus Ellis says playing on one of badminton's biggest stages at the YONEX All England will help him get an edge on dormant rivals at the Olympic Games.

The Huddersfield star heads to Birmingham on a high after reaching the semi-finals of the Swiss Open alongside Lauren Smith, with the pair now seeded fourth for the Super 1000 showpiece.

Ellis believes playing regularly under extensive COVID-19 protocols will be vital when it comes to his second Games appearance at Tokyo 2020.

"You can't hide from it, you can't say you won't compete until we get back to normal," said Ellis.

"You have to adapt and do it better than anyone else. We're all in the same boat, everyone who's qualifying for the Olympics has to operate under these conditions.

"I can't have a pity party about it, you have to get your big boy boots on and get on with it.

"As far as preparation goes for the Olympics, the more tournaments we can have at this level, it's really key. Hopefully by the time the summer comes around, we'll be firing on all cylinders."

One of the best weeks of Ellis's career came at last year's event – squeezed in before lockdown was imposed – as he and Smith reached the mixed doubles final four.

He has been playing at the All England since 2012, when he exited in the now-disbanded qualification round alongside Heather Olver.

Ellis is also bidding for long run in the men's doubles with partner Chris Langridge, with whom he won Olympic bronze at Rio 2016.

The pair have yet to find their best form since returning to competition with Langridge in particular seeing his preparations disrupted by injury and court time limited.

"With Chris, we've had a topsy-turvy few months," he said.

"We've battled with a couple of injuries and haven't spent as long on the court together as we'd like, in the training environment.

"In Thailand, we had a tough tour. Switzerland wasn't perfect, but we saw small improvements and we have to take those as big wins at this stage.

"Coming off the long break, we suffered quite a lot and we've found it hard to get our rhythm back. I'm positive that this week will see another set of improvements."

This year's tournament will be played behind closed doors, but Ellis still believes English players will thrive on their own patch.

"I first played at the All England in 2012 and it was super, super special.

"It feels like home, it doesn't even feel like a competition for me and that's one big home advantage we have when we're on court."

Following a tough year for everyone, the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships marks the first step in inspiring people to get back on court as soon as they can. For more information for the badminton community, visit https://www.badmintonengland.co.uk/return-to-play/