Author: Daily Telegraph
If medals were won for bounciness and banter, Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms would have enough to sink one of the party boats that cruise Melbourne's Yarra River on a nightly basis. The way they are playing they are heading that way anyway and are firm favourites to add to their collection when the team and individual competitions begin here on Thursday.
Emms will also play women's doubles and should prosper alongside Donna Kellogg. I just play mixed, I'm not as greedy as her, said Robertson, which gives you an idea of how their relationship works. They spark off each other like a happily married couple, except they say they are not. A couple, that is.
The Olympic silver medallists made the most of all the opportunities that came their way following that extraordinary Athens final before deciding, around Christmas 2004, that it was time to knuckle down again.
It just got horrendous, Emms admitted. We decided it was time to put in some hard work and realise we were badminton players. You can't be a badminton player and a party animal - we know, we tried.
It helps that the pair love what they do. It's not like it's boring doing the training, Robertson said. It's fun, and so is winning. It's the most enjoyable thing and not getting the gold in Athens has driven us on.
They enjoyed a triumphant 2005, which brought success at the All England Championships plus an extraordinary win in China, and have continued with titles in Denmark and Switzerland in 2006. They lost their All England crown in a repeat of the Olympic final but had five match points and can see the positives. They are relishing being favourites here.
The Commonwealth Games are not the biggest thing in the badminton calendar, but they offer an opportunity to build on the sport's profile in the United Kingdom. Robertson and Emms also have some unfinished business after missing out on the medals in Manchester four years ago. They are hoping that success here will add volume to their calls for the sport to liven up at home. They would like the new City Leagues, featuring the best of British plus top players from around the world, to bring dry ice, loud music and higher standards to a world of church halls and social sport.
Emms said: The All England Championships are very traditional. The spectators stay quiet during the rallies. It would be great to make it more appealing to young players.
We could be Rocket Robertson and Gail Force, Robertson added as Emms rolled her eyes.
Of course, it is gold at the Beijing Olympics that the pair really crave. Yet if these Games prove half as entertaining as Athens, it should be a fun ride.