Scotland’s Imogen Bankier and Nottingham’s Chris Adcock enjoyed a huge Olympic boost when they beat China’s world champions Nan Zhang and Yunlei Zhao in the first round of mixed doubles at the Yonex All England Badminton Open in Birmingham.
The 65-minute match didn’t finish until close to midnight, but the British pair and World Championship silver medalists were spurred to a 16-21, 21-19, 21-19 victory by the home crowd. They now meet the unseeded South Koreans, Yeong Seong Yoo and Ye Na Yang.
Bankier and Adcock are leading the race to make Team GB for this year’s Olympics ahead of England’s Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork.
Edinburgh’s Jillie Cooper and Longniddry’s Robert Blair, having made it through two rounds of qualifying, lost in the first round of the main draw in the mixed doubles but showed great promise in their first tournament together. The Lothians pair went out 15-21, 17-21 to Indonesia’s Muhammad Rijal and Debby Susanto and are already looking forward to their next tournament in harness.
“We played quite well in spells but we took a little while to get our tactics right,” said Blair. “We’re a new pair and so, of course, we hadn’t played them before. We just left it too late in the first set and then the second was quite close but I made a couple of mistakes at a bad time. Overall, it was quite a good performance first time out at a tournament.”
An upbeat Cooper added: “I think we’ve done really well to be honest. It’s such a big event and I thought we coped really well with the situation and played really well. There’s lots of positives we can take from this. The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is something that we’re both looking forward to given that we won’t be at the Olympics. Our preparation has already started.”