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Page last updated at 18:38 GMT, Saturday, 26 July 2008 19:38 UK

GB duo given tough Olympic draw

Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms
Emms and Robertson face a nail-biting encounter with Zheng and Gao

Britain's two mixed doubles badminton pairs will face tough Chinese opponents at the Olympic tournament in Beijing.

Nathan Robertson, who has just returned to action following ankle surgery, and Gail Emms will play second seeds Zheng Bo and Gao Ling in their first match.

The Athens silver medallists lost to the Chinese pair four times in 2007.

European champions Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg go up against joint third seeds He Hanbin and Yu Yang - a pair they have never beaten.

"Ideally we wouldn't have wanted the Chinese in the first round," admitted GB and England head coach Ian Wright.

Gail Emms
"But then I can't imagine they would want to face Nathan and Gail or Anthony and Donna either.

"If our players can win their opening matches then the door is wide open for us."

Gao and former partner Zhang Jun defeated Robertson and Emms to claim Olympic gold four years ago.

Former European champions Emms and Kellogg were out of luck in the women's doubles as well where they drew Chinese third seeds and world number two pair Zhang Jiewen and Wei Yili.

They have met four times in 2006 and 2007 and Emms and Kellogg have lost each time.

Britain's six-strong squad fared better in the singles draw where Andrew Smith meets Czech star Petr Koukal, while Commonwealth champion Tracey Hallam faces Pui Yin Yip of Hong Kong.

China's Lin Dan, the top seed and favourite, and world number two Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia could meet in the men's Olympic final after they were paired in different halves of the draw.

In the women's draw, favourite Xie Xingfang could meet Athens Olympic champion Zhang Ning in an all-Chinese final.

The Chinese team has set a target of winning five out of five badminton gold medals on home soil, having earned three golds in Athens.

The badminton tournament takes place from 9-17 August.

see also
Robertson named in badminton team
22 May 08 |  Badminton
Robertson sidelined for six weeks
02 May 08 |  Badminton
Team GB for Beijing
21 Jul 08 |  Team GB
Laws of Badminton
24 Aug 05 |  Badminton

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