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Last Updated: Monday, 3 May, 2004, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Road to Athens: Robertson and Emms
By Nick Crowther

Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson
We're a natural pair which not everybody is
Nathan Robertson

You know that feeling when something instinctively feels right?

Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms do when they're playing badminton together.

And they are confident that their on-court chemistry can help them win an Olympic medal this summer.

The duo, who will both turn 27 shortly before the Games, have produced a string of consistently fine performances in the past 12 months that has cemented their place as fourth in the world in mixed doubles.

"We're a natural pair which not everybody is," said Nottingham-born Robertson.

"We can read each other's game quite well and know whereabouts we're moving and know where our shots are going, so it doesn't take a lot of court time to know where we're going to hit it.

"We've got some sort of natural understanding on the court which is very helpful."

NATHAN ROBERTSON
Born: 30/5/1977
Home: Copenhagen
Height: 6ft 2in
First GB appearance: 1995

Emms added: "Our styles suit each other.

"I suppose we read each other's minds in a way. We're very lucky like that."

The pair are Britain's best and possibly only hope for a medal in badminton in Athens.

"There's definitely extra pressure on us," admits Robertson.

"The whole target for the badminton side is one medal and we're one of the only real chances.

"I don't feel a burden because I've got my own personal goals and my own personal goal is try and play my best when I get there and if we do play our best then we'll see what comes with that."

GAIL EMMS
Born: 23/7/1977
Home: Bedford
Height: 5ft 2in
First GB appearance: 1995

And Emms believes their experiences together at the top level will help them cope.

"There's always pressure but we've had pressure for the last two years now," she said.

"We've always been the pair that have produced results in England and we've always had the pressure on us to keep doing that. We've got a bit used to it now."

But does that mean they really believe they have a chance of coming home with a medal?

The pair were favourites for a gold medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and both list their quarter-final defeat in Manchester as one of the biggest disappointments of their careers.

As a result, Emms is understandably cautious about predictions of Olympic success.

"There's an opportunity there for us to get hold of and give it a go, no doubt about it," she said.

"We'll need a bit of luck on the day but it's an opportunity and we've got to take it with both hands."

Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson

Robertson, who reached the quarter-finals of the men's doubles at the Sydney Olympics with Simon Archer, is more hopeful.

"We're positive. We've had a pretty steady season and we've established ourselves to be one of the favourites for definitely a bronze medal, so we're pretty optimistic about that," he said.

"I hope we're reaching a peak in about four months.

"We are playing well. We're still improving which is important and gives us a lot of confidence.

"Hopefully the peak will be August," Emms agreed. "All the Chinese players they keep producing are getting younger and fitter and stronger so this is it, this is our chance really."





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ROAD TO ATHENS
 


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