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BUCS Nationals Badminton preview 14/02/2017

More than 6000 competitors will take part in the BUCS Nationals in Sheffield this weekend with badminton one of nine sports being contested across the Steel City.

Badminton is the fastest racquet sport in the world and, going by this year’s line-up, is set to be one of the most hotly-contested sports at this year’s BUCS. This year, we will welcome 720 athletes to the badminton event, competing over three days.

It has featured stellar names from around the world in the past including Team GB’s very own Olympians Heather Olver and Lauren Smith and will undoubtedly unearth many more in the years ahead.

Alumni

1 Heather Olver (University of Bath)

Sussex-born Heather Olver competed for the University of Bath in BUCS. The Eastbourne athlete studied Coach Education and Sports Development in the south west from 2004 to 2007. While at university, she won team bronze with England at the 2004 Commonwealth Youth Games and scooped the BUCS team title in 2007. She also represented Team GB at the 2016 Rio Olympics along with Lauren Smith. She retired from international badminton in October 2016, with European mixed team gold and two Commonwealth Games medals among her collection.

2 Lauren Smith (Leeds Beckett University)

Lauren Smith partnered Heather Olver in badminton at Rio 2016. The Cumbrian star graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a degree in sports coaching. She won silver in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, in the mixed team event, which also featured Olver, and also bronze in the women’s doubles. A little closer to home and she reached her third consecutive National Badminton League final earlier this month with Team Derby.

Ones to watch

1 Lyddia Cheah (University of Derby)

Last year’s women’s singles champion will be looking to make it two titles on the spin. The 27-year-old has an outstanding pedigree, and was part of the Malaysia team that won Commonwealth gold in the mixed doubles in Delhi in 2010. She is also an outstanding singles player, and has a bronze in the Southeast Asian Games under her belt. The 27-year-old has started this year in fine fettle, winning the women’s doubles in the Iceland International and claiming silver in the singles event.

2 Alex Lane (University of Bath)

Like Lyddia Cheah, Lane is also back to defend the individual crown he won at last year’s BUCS. The England international, 21, is a triple national champion, having won titles at under-13, under-15 and under-17 level. He has also reached the semi-finals of the 2015 national championships. He has enjoyed team success, winning silver at the 2014 Team Championships in Basel and bronze at last year’s tournament in Kazan.

3 Jenny Moore (Loughborough University)

Moore is something of a doubles specialist, with five BUCS titles to her name in the past three years. Along with Vicky Williams, she has won the women’s doubles title for three years running. And she and Greg Mairs have scooped the mixed doubles title for the past two years. The Loughborough Lightning player was also a finalist in the 2015 English Nationals, and won silver at the under-17 European Championships.

4 Greg Mairs (Loughborough University)

Jenny Moore’s partner in crime, Greg Mairs has won the BUCS mixed doubles title for the last two years and was the men’s doubles winner in 2015 too. He will be looking to make it a hat-trick of titles with Moore in Sheffield this weekend in what is set to be his last BUCS Nationals. Mairs also plies his trade for Loughborough Lightning in the National Badminton League, with the team just missing out on a spot in the Grand Final earlier this month, while he is also a seasoned international campaigner on behalf of England.

5 Jordan Hart (Loughborough University)

The talented Welsh player was a beaten finalist in both the women’s singles and women’s doubles at last year’s tournament, and is no doubt out to go one step further this year. She lost out to Lyddia Cheah in the singles and, along with Jess Hopton lost to fellow Loughborough Lightning player Moore and her partner Vicky Williams in the women’s doubles.

Key Times

All of the badminton action is taking place at the English Institute of Sport on Coleridge Road in Sheffield from 17 to 19 February. The first heats of the competition, featuring the unseeded men in the tournament, start at 10.30am on Friday. The rest of the schedule is expected to take place over Friday and Saturday, with finals on Sunday.

Follow all the action throughout the largest annual multi-sport event in the UK across social media using the official event hashtag: #BUCSNationals

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