Golden girl Gabby shuttles back to school

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Great Britain badminton star Gabby Adcock visited a Leeds primary where her gold medal-winning journey began.

She and husband Chris are European and Commonwealth mixed doubles champions but her interest in the sport was sparked at the age of seven when she went to watch older sister Jessica compete in an after-school club, run by Leeds Badminton Club, at Green Lane Primary in Garforth.

Gabby returned to Green Lane, which she left in 2002 for Garforth Academy, to inspire the next generation as the academy received a Centre of Excellence plaque.

“What an amazing morning,” said Gabby, who turned professional aged just 16 and is aiming for gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

“It brought back so many fond memories of my time there.

“Congratulations on becoming a Centre of Excellence for sport. It is well deserved with all the hard work that’s clearly been going in.”

The Centre of Excellence award was presented by Dan Wilson from the Yorkshire Sport Foundation with guests also including the academy’s sports club partners. It is recognition of its active engagement with local sport and leisure groups and parents through its innovative “Let’s Try…” programme.

The couple offered encouragement and coaching to some of the GLPA Monday lunchtime badminton club.

Pupil Ben said: “They gave us lots of tips for playing badminton. One was very important – it was to have fun.

“It was like you were in a very, very good dream!”

Aaditya said: “I started three little rallies between me and Gabby but then Gabby hit it too hard and it went over my head and I missed the shuttlecock!”

The session ended in a doubles match with Lily and Zoe, Year 6 pupils who play badminton for Yorkshire.

Gabby and Chris presented them with an award for their help in running the club for younger pupils.

Lily said: “It was unbelievable and amazing to see my idols standing in front of me.

“It felt like a dream and I felt so lucky to meet Chris and Gabby. I hope that I am as good as them someday.”

Zoe loved the match and said: “It was really nice for the lower KS1 to cheer on me and Lily or Gabby and Chris. That day was one of the best experiences ever.

“It was stunning to see Gabby look at the school she used to go to. Lily and I really hope to improve and become just as good as Gabby and Chris.”

Gabby and Chris gave their top tips for success to a school assembly and answered questions posed by the school council.

Head of Academy Lucy Carlisle said: “We were delighted to welcome Gabby back. The visit was exciting and inspiring for all our budding sports stars.”

Dan Bright, PE and Sport Leader at Green Lane, was thrilled with the visit.

“Gabby’s story shows the incredible possibilities that exist when local primary schools work in close partnership with local sport and leisure groups.

“Chris and Gabby are incredible role models – the buzz around school today has been incredible.”