My Journey so far...

From a young age my parents always gave me the opportunity to take part in as many different sporting activities as possible and I owe all my success in badminton to them. Whether it was getting up early on the weekend to take me to competitions or running me around to training sessions they always gave up a lot of their free time to help me pursue whichever sport I wanted to participate in, but it was my mum who specifically got me started into badminton.

I was introduced to badminton at the age of 15, which some would consider quite late, when my mum saw an advert in the local paper for a club in Deganwy called Great Orme. This Club was run by Joe Hill and has produced many successful badminton players in the past. At the time I was unaware of this and just went down to play for fun but I soon found that I took to it and really started to enjoy playing competitively.

This was when I was introduced to Neil Cottrill who has played both for England and Wales and also coaches in the North Wales High Performance Centre. Neil was a fantastic coach and showed me all the skills I needed to develop as a player. If I ever needed any help or asked any questions he was more than happy to help me out and for this I am truly grateful. I still travel back to North Wales now and sometimes get to play with him. He is still a very skillful player and we have some good games.

It was around this time where I really started to take badminton more seriously as a junior and began training more regularly. I was often travelling around Wales on the weekend to compete in what was then known as the JSS competitions. This was mainly where Welsh juniors could play competitively against each other, but sometimes English players would take play. It wasn’t long before I started winning a few of these competitions and got noticed by the Junior Welsh Squad Coaches. 

After winning a few JSSs and putting in a good performance, I was invited to attend my first training session with, what was then, the U17s Welsh A Squad down in Abergavenny. I was the only person from North Wales who attended the training camp and knew no one there at all. This was a very exciting but intimidating time for me as it felt like I was really starting to be noticed as a player and of course, being part of an official Welsh setup made me very proud. The session which we all took part in was really fun and everyone made me feel welcome. At the end of the session we all played some games and I beat everyone there which was great feeling for me to go home with.

Being part of the U17 A Squad was a stepping stone to getting into the real Junior Welsh Team. I was soon invited to take part in the Junior Welsh Squad training which was then coached by Eddie Oneill. Eddie invited me down and this was my first time training in the Welsh Institute of Sport in Cardiff. I had never had a full week of training like this before and the training was significantly harder on my body then I had ever previously experienced. None the less, I tried my best to push through it and it really made me realise what I would have to do to become a better player. It was here where I was given my first Welsh Tracksuit which I wore with pride. Anyone who remembers that grey Welsh tracksuit will remember that it was not exactly the best looking tracksuit in the world, but I’m sure everyone who got the chance to wear it made themselves and their families very proud.

Sometime passed and then it was time for the Junior Nationals. This moment stands out for me as one of my best achievements as I was able to win all 3 events. It wasn’t just winning all 3 that was great, but what subsequently occurred because of those wins was also great. After winning, I was invited by Eddie to take part in my first team event for Wales, the U17s Quadrangular in Ireland. At the time I was not really sure what this was as I had never been away before with a team like some of the other players, but none the less I was very excited. This was a real shock for me as I played 1st singles against England, Ireland and Scotland. If I am honest, I was really nervous and didn’t perform my best but none the less it was a big learning curve for me. Some of the players I played against have now been to the Olympics and Commonwealth Games which proves their level at a young age. I can say that this experience was a real honour for me and I appreciate what Eddie did in giving me the chance to compete for Wales here.

Competing as a junior was great, but I decided to go to University in Cardiff to pursue my studies. This is where my badminton began to take a backseat. One of the main difficulties I faced when coming down to Cardiff was that I never had a regular doubles partner. This was very difficult for me as although I was still part of the Welsh Squad I never had the opportunity to compete at a high level in the discipline I chose.  None the less, I still continued to train as I loved the sport and my luck came in when Joe Morgan made a comeback from injury and I was given the chance to play with him.

That summer was the hardest summer’s training I have ever experienced in my life. Matt Hughes pushed everyone in the squad to their limits and still does now. He really gave me the motivation and desire to pursue badminton professionally. After a long summer of training myself and Joe played our first European competition in Slovakia. Obviously Joe has played a lot of these before but this was my first chance on the European circuit. I was surprised and amazed that we managed to pull a win off in our first tournament and full credit goes to Matt who smashed us in summer training so we hit our peak when we came into the season.

The rest of these 2 years speak for themselves as we have managed to get another 2 European Titles, 2 Finals, represented Wales in the Thomas Cup and reached a career high of 56. This could not have been possible without the support of Badminton Wales and their coaching Staff; they have really done a lot for me. I now hope to be able to compete for Wales in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 which will be a dream for me.