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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
England chief sets radical target
By David Garrido, BBC Sport

Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson in action at the 2007 Yonex All-England Championships
Christy: "We don't want this just to be the Gail & Nathan show."
Badminton England's chief executive Adrian Christy has unveiled a radical 100-point plan to make England the world's top nation within 10 years.

Christy wants to overhaul the system from grass roots up to elite performers so that by 2016 England can compete with China, Indonesia and Korea.

"The first litmus test will be becoming European number one by 2010," says Christy, who took over six months ago.

He is also considering a bid to stage the World Championships in 2011.

Christy's first aim of European dominance is not such a fanciful idea, with Denmark the only opposition of note.

The real challenge will be overcoming the globally dominant Far Eastern nations by 2016.

This will be especially difficult in the singles disciplines, where Christy has admitted the mentality has to change - Andrew Smith is the only British player anywhere near the men's top 10.

The lack of adequate competition in the UK has forced him to train in Malaysia, where he'll soon be joined by Rajiv Ouseph and Nathan Rice, albeit temporarily.

World men's singles No 1 - China's Lin Dan
Far Eastern players such as China's Lin Dan dominate world rankings

The highest-ranked women's singles player from the UK is Scotland's Susan Hughes. currently 25th in the world, with Tracey Hallam of England lying 39th.

Doubles is in a rather healthier position, with Olympic silver medallists Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson (currently ranked fourth in the world) as well as Donna Kellogg and Anthony Clark (ranked fifth) regularly reaching quarter- and semi-finals on the world tour.

But Christy is not one to rest on his laurels; the governing body has just lured Malaysian Tan Kim Her away from Korea to become the new men's doubles coach, with another "world-class coach" soon to join the national coaching team.

"In the short term, yes, we do have to look abroad," he said.

But the grand plan is to have a system in place that will cultivate home-grown coaches in the future.

And it does not stop there.

Dream job

In order to ensure long-term prosperity in the sport, Christy also has to improve Badminton England's "poor reputation" among the clubs that are its lifeblood - he described communication between the two as 'non-existent'.

Christy's solution? A more coherent structure which he hopes will give promising club players the chance to develop themselves at a higher level.

But plenty of examples from the Far East and South-east Asia prove that in order to match and better the current super-powers, the talent search has to begin earlier, so schools will also be an important feeder element.

Stellar performances at the Beijing and London Olympics from the country's top stars will only help raise the sport's profile even more, even though Christy knows his leading lights will not be around forever.

"We don't want this just to be the Gail and Nathan show," he said, citing youngsters Chris Adcock and Gabby White as ones to watch in years to come.

Other ways of attracting interest include bringing major badminton events to the UK.

To that end, Christy is considering a bid to stage the European Championships in 2009/10, probably in the North-west, but more importantly the Worlds in 2011, preferably at the O2 Arena in London.

All of this depends on funding, of course - with just short of 7m from UK Sport over three years, Christy is willing to put Badminton England's money where his mouth is, and is adamant he will deliver too.

"This is my dream job," he says, "and it's something I'm passionate about being successful at."


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