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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Q&A: Kelly Morgan
Welsh badminton star Kelly Morgan reveals how dance classes helped her on-court coordination and why she'll be hitting the slopes once she hangs up her racquet.

Kelly Morgan
Name: Kelly Morgan
From: Tonteg, Pontypridd, Wales
Date of Birth: 22 May 1975
Coach: Zhou Junling
World Ranking: 17
Highest ranking: 5
Career highlights: silver, 1998 European Championship; gold, 1998 Commonwealth Games; bronze, 2000 European Championships; last 16, 2000 Olympics
Why did you choose to play badminton?

It all started by accident.

A friend of the family started up a club and my brother and I would tag along with our parents. To begin with, it was more of a social thing.

Did you play any other sports when you were growing up?

I come from a really sporty family so you name it, I did it! Tennis, swimming, hockey, netball, athletics - anything.

I also did a lot of dancing - tap, modern and ballet. I'm glad I did because I think it helped with my coordination and footwork on court.

Why did you decide to concentrate on badminton?

If I'd have been sensible, I'd probably have opted for tennis or one of the other sports.

But I just really enjoyed badminton.

If there was a clash in my timetable, badminton always took priority over anything else.

As I got older I realised I was good at it and I really wanted to do well.

Even if I hadn't ended up playing badminton professionally, I would still be playing it as a hobby.

What is it about the sport you love?

I like the fact it's a game that can be enjoyed by all ages, regardless of ability.

And no matter how good you are, there's always something new to learn.

Any other sports you'd like to try?

Did you know?
Kelly has won 12 consecutive Welsh national singles titles
She was awarded an MBE for her services to sport in the community
But she admits she is a shop-aholic!
My husband is really into extreme sports. He's always off mountain biking or snowboarding.

He's tried to get me to go with him and has even brought me all the gear.

But I tell him I can't, because I can't afford to get injured.

It's one thing I'm definitely going to do when I finish playing badminton!

You have been to three Olympic Games, how exciting is it?

Qualifying for Athens made me feel just as proud as it did when I made it to Atlanta way back in 1996.

The Olympics only come around once every four years and it's the pinnacle of every athlete's career.

You can't underestimate what a big, big achievement it is to get there.

Kelly at the All England Championships in 2001
"I've learnt to use key words to trigger my focus," says Kelly
I got through to the last 16 in Sydney four years ago (Morgan also reached the last 16 in Athens, losing to China's Ning Zhang, who eventually took gold).

Although it's a massive event, you have to try and put that out of your head.

After all it's the same faces you see, the same competitors you're up against. So you've got to try and treat it just like any other tournament.

What is your training regime?

I train two or three times a day, four times a week.

It can be tough so it's important to enjoy it.

If you can grin and bear it and keep going, you'll be surprised what you can achieve.

The Welsh squad is coached by Zhou Junling, who's Chinese.

The Chinese are dominating the sport at the moment so it's great to have him come in with lots of new ideas.

As well as on-court sessions, I do a fair amount of work without a racquet in my hand.

That includes sprints, skipping, fast-feet, weight sessions and runs.

At the moment I'm working on fine-tuning all the different aspects so I can take it that one step further.

I also work regularly with a sports psychologist.

I find it helps me with my preparation.

And when things aren't going according to plan on the court, I've learnt to use key words to trigger my focus back to where it should be.

Have you ever felt like giving it all up?

There's no season in badminton like there is in football and I came to a point where I'd played for two years without a decent break.

It meant spending weeks at a time away from home. I was absolutley worn out and my head wasn't right.

When I got married I decided to take a complete break from badminton for a month or two.

It did me the world of good! It was exactly what I needed to sort myself out.

At the end of it I was fresh and ready to start training again.

Who was your sporting hero when you were growing up?

I loved watching tennis as a youngster and Steffi Graf was a big influence.

She was lovely to watch and was always very professional in what she did.

I miss playing tennis - especially during the summer when Wimbledon's on and everyone seems to be hitting the courts.

But I daren't in case I get injured.

Like most athletes I'm very competitive so I know even a knock-about with a mate would turn into a serious contest for me!

You take part in tournaments all over the world. Which are your favourite countries to visit?

Badminton has taken me to so many different countries. Not only do I get to play the sport I love, but I also get to travel the world!

And because my mum and dad often travel with me, they've been able to experience it all with me too.

I won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia in 1998 - which has probably got a lot to do with why I like the country so much.

Canada is a favourite place of mine too, while being in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics was brilliant.

Wherever I go I make sure I bring a souvenir back with me. Nothing big - just a little memento to remind me of the place.

I also always send postcards to family and friends from wherever I am in the world so they know I'm thinking about them.

Badminton calendar
16 Oct 00 |  Badminton

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