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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 03:14 GMT 04:14 UK

England set for doubles glory

Gillian Clark MBE, who remains England's most capped badminton international with 145 appearances, looks ahead to a feast of doubles action at the Bolton Arena.

Certainly things are weighing in England's favour as far as the women are concerned.

In the women's doubles, we have the number one seeds, Sara Sankey and Ella Miles, but this doesn't tell the whole story.

The organisers have only seeded four pairs because of the number of entries, which means our second pair, Gail Emms and Jo Goode, who I rate higher, are floating.

So I wouldn't be surprised if we have an all English final.

The fact Goode and Emms are not seeded - I wouldn't pay any attention to that.

"There is still a big question mark over Archer and Goode's fitness "
Gillian Clark
England coach

I think they are, in the other players' eyes, the favourites to win.

Emms should also have success in the mixed doubles, where she has a great partnership with Nathan Robertson.

They're the top seeds, ranked third in the world and having arrived off the back of a win at the Malaysian Open, which is a huge Grand Prix event.

They beat Olympic bronze medallists Simon Archer and Jo Goode in Malaysia and the reason they are not ranked higher than third is because they haven't had good results for long enough.

They are beginning to play really well and, in my opinion, the only pair that could upset them are Archer and Goode.

But there's still a big question mark over Archer and Goode's fitness.

Archer is struggling back because of this knee surgery, while Goode is returning to action after her second child.

Simon was telling me he was really happy with the way he played in Malaysia and felt he was finding his form again, but this is a long hard tournament.

If they were playing at their best, which I don't believe they could be after having such a long period out, they would be the hot favourites.

Certainly they'll be boosted by the home crowd, which will remember them from that fantastic performance at Sydney 2000.

Kiwi challenge

Of course, New Zealand are also contenders in the women's and mixed doubles.

Rhona Robertson and Tammy Jenkins are seeded second in the women's doubles, with compatriots Sara Runesten-Petersen and Nicole Gordon one place behind.

In the mixed event, Runesten-Petersen and Daniel Shirley have taken the number two spot behind England's Emms and Robertson.

Certainly they're high on the rankings so they've got high seedings, but I'm not sure if this really reflects their capabilities as badminton players.

It may sound rude, but the fact is, to get on the ranking, you have to play tournaments worldwide and the most recent results carry more weight.

They've played in more recent competitions and got good points for do so, which boosts their ranking.

I don't necessarily think they're going to pick up the medals that their seeding would suggest.

Mixed doubles action gets under way on 31 July, while women's doubles starts the following day.

Gillian Clark MBE remains one of England's most successful badminton players.
She retired after winning two gold medals (team and mixed doubles) and a silver (ladies doubles) at the Games in Victoria in 1994.
It was her last ever badminton competition and the most successful Games.

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