Badminton: Robertshaw aiming high after Commonwealth silver

Kate Robertshaw.
Kate Robertshaw.
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PUDSEY’S Kate Robertshaw has already made net gains from moving to badminton’s national centre in Milton Keynes.

Four years after relocating, the 24-year-old has bagged a Commonwealth silver medal, has a boyfriend who is badminton’s best in Britain and a new home which the duo now share.

Yet the Leeds hitter hopes the best is yet to come with Robertshaw and her Crossgates-raised new women’s doubles partner Sophie Brown targeting national glory en route to Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

Formerly of Waterloo Primary School, Pudsey Grangefield School and Woodkirk Academy, Robertshaw was part of England’s mixed badminton team that secured silver at last year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

And sharing the glory was Robertshaw’s London-born boyfriend and English number one Rajiv Ouseph who also bagged silver at the 2010 Commonwealths in Delhi.

The duo met at the sport’s national centre in Milton Keynes where they are not the only loved up badminton couple in town.

Garforth’s Gabby Adcock, formerly Gabby White, is based there with husband Chris Adcock with Gabby recently having shelved her women’s doubles career in favour of concentrating on mixed doubles with her husband.

And Robertshaw hopes that move can provide the catalyst in propelling her own career with Badminton England having subsequently shaken up the women’s parings and uniting Robertshaw with fellow Yorkshire ace Brown.

Robertshaw had previously been partnered with Sussex star Heather Oliver who is now paired with Adcock’s former ally Lauren Smith.

It is that duo who will be favourites for glory at next weekend’s national championships which come five weeks before the Birmingham All England Badminton Championships, the most prestigious badminton event in the world.

But Robertshaw is hoping that a new partnership with Crossgates youngster Brown can provide a Yorkshire match made in heaven as she settles into her fifth year living in Milton Keynes.

“I moved down here maybe four or five years ago, I think I was about 19 when I came here,” Robertshaw told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“Obviously with the national centre being here we have to be here if you want to get the best training and the best coaching.

“I do miss home a lot and my family and friends but it’s just a sacrifice that had to be made.

“And it’s nice that I’ve got a place down here now with Raj so I’ve kind of got settled though it’s also nice when we get a bit of time to get home and have a catch up and get back to the northerners!

“Coming together with Sophie has been great as she’s from Carlton, Garforth way so she’s from Leeds but obviously the other side to me.

“We get on really well off court as well as on court.

“We can have a laugh and a joke but then we have still got the same ambitions which makes it quite a good match.”

Those ambitions will face an early acid test next weekend at the Sussex-held English National Badminton Championships at which Robertshaw has twice been a beaten finalist.

Liz Cann denied her glory when the Yorkshire ace was a singles player back in 2012 while Robertshaw and Oliver were pipped by Adcock and Smith last year.

With Adcock now concentrating on mixed doubles, Robertshaw’s former partner Oliver could become her nemesis in this year’s final.

But whatever happens next weekend, the Pudsey star is keen to stress that herself and Brown are very much a work in progress.

Robertshaw explained: “Me and Heather did pretty well together and I think our highest ranking was 22 in the world.

“But all the pairs got split up because Gabby Adcock stopped playing women’s doubles and just focused on mixed so that left an odd number of girls.

“We all kind of switched around and I think a lot of our partnerships had got a bit stale. We were doing well but we weren’t really progressing to the next level.

“We were between 13 and 20 in the rankings but we weren’t really taking that next step.

“I came together with Sophie in September but I was out with injury after the Commonwealths so we didn’t really start playing until October.

“Then Sophie was ill for one of the tournaments but we’ve already got to the finals of the Welsh International and the semi-final of the Irish International and we also got the finals of the Swedish Masters only last week.

“We have gelled quite well and it seems like we have got quite a lot of potential to go further, especially with Sophie only being 21.

“Sophie’s a young, talented player and I think once she gets a bit more experience we can really push on. Hopefully I can add that bit of experience.”

Robertshaw now has 13 years of experience in the sport having first started as an 11-year-old at a summer camp in Scarborough that was for cricket and badminton.

It proved the perfect activity for Robertshaw and older brother Mark to attend with Mark, 27, now a talented cricketer for Pudsey St Lawrence in the Bradford League.

He lives in Chester-Le-Street but the rest of the family remain back in Pudsey with mum Helen, dad Dave and grandparents Rosalyn and Paul all proud as punch when Kate brought home a Commonwealths silver last year.

Robertshaw – who is also studying a degree in sports business while at Milton Keynes – only wishes she could have brought home gold.

The Leeds ace recalled: “The Commonwealths was obviously an amazing experience and it was really good to be at such a major sporting event.

“But we maybe underperfomed a little bit as well as there were pairs we were hoping to beat.”

There’s a sense Robertshaw has unfinished business, and the Yorkshire star hopes to make amends on a stage far bigger than the Commonwealths with both the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics the long term dream for herself and new partner Brown.

Robertshaw admitted: “Obviously Rio is my target but it is very hard to qualify with only the top 16 in the world qualifying for women’s doubles.

“Great Britain would have to have two in the top eight to take two pairings, otherwise it’s just one. It’s a pretty tough ask for a new partnership and being a bit less experienced.

“But we will definitely be pushing on and obviously once we get a few more tournaments we will have a clearer idea of where we’re at.

“Whatever happens, the 2020 Olympics would definitely be an option and if we didn’t make 2016 then we’d definitely be looking to push for 2020.

“I’m 24 so I’ve definitely got life left in me yet!”

Meanwhile, Badminton England are offering three readers a pair of tickets for the All England Open Badminton Championships, held from March 3 to March 8 in Birmingham. To enter, send the answer to the following question together with your name and contact number to yep.sport@ypn.co.uk.

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