My journey so far...
I first started playing badminton when I was ten years old. The first club I joined was the Guilsfield Junior Badminton Club at my local village hall, where my mum and dad were in charge of running the sessions. I was involved in many sports at the time though: football, cricket and even gymnastics. I began to play in a few welsh badminton tournaments, including the young dragons, as I improved, I was then invited down to a Cardiff training camp… The rest is as they say history. I started having private coaching off Derek Harvey from Flint, when I became part of the Welsh Junior squad at 11. Derek was a junior squad coach who gave me my first taste of playing for Wales in the Celtic Challenge. At the age of 13, I moved coaches to Eddie Sutton, Stafford (an ex badminton England international doubles player). It was at this time when I decided that badminton was where my future lay and I began to concentrate all my efforts on my goal of one day gaining a cap for Wales.
As there were limited badminton players from Mid Wales at the time, I struggled to get a regular level doubles or mixed partner. However when I moved up to under 15’s, I joined forces with my present doubles partner, Daniel Font. In our first year of playing together, we won the Home Nations Quadrangular Tournament at under 15, and then again at under 17. We also won the under 17 UK School Games gold medals together. I have also successfully represented Wales playing in Belgium and Switzerland reaching semi-finals and finals. I partnered up with Georgia Hughes for mixed at under 17. We won medals at the UK school games, though our greatest success was a bronze medal at the European under 17 junior championships. I have competed in every Junior Nationals, winning many titles: my most successful year being in 2008, where I won the singles, doubles and mixed. After my Nationals success in 2008 Yonex approached me and offered me a sponsorship deal, I have been with them ever since.
All of my achievements by this point filled me with pride; however winning my first senior National title in 2013 playing with Sarah Thomas in the mixed was amazing.
Participating in the 2011 Isle of Man Junior Commonwealth Games was a great honor for me. It was an experience I will never forget; mixing with so many athletes from so many countries. However the opportunity of competing in the senior commonwealth games would be an unbelievable experience.
I received my first cap for Wales in 2012, playing in the European Team Championships, which I enjoyed very much. Playing in this event however made me realise how much harder I was going to have to train in order to compete at senior international level. During my first full year at senior level I enjoyed some success including winning the doubles title in Ireland, as well as the mixed title in Cyprus: all of which helped my ranking rise to 70 in the world. This being said, disaster struck whilst I was in China for the world championships last year. During a training session I broke my humorous in four places. I was gutted about not being able to compete and then having six months away from badminton. (I was a nightmare to live with apparently!)
Once I was back to relative fitness, my first tournament was the Senior Nationals in February. I decided I would only compete in the level doubles with Daniel due to not being at my full strength, although I was disappointed not to defend my mixed title from the previous year. It was important for me to concentrate just on the doubles as it was going to be very tough after so many months out. I was extremely happy when we won the final beating fellow squad members Nic Strange and Joe Morgan in the final, and being crowned National Champions.
Unfortunately however, with so much time out of competing in international competitions, my ranking dropped considerably to 235 in the world. I realised I had some hard work ahead of me, so I embarked on a vigorous training and competition schedule. I have had some success since getting back with my ranking rising to 135, however I have until the 15th May with competitions in Latvia and Slovenia to reach my ranking goal, and hopefully gain my selection for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Recently Daniel and I were at a local high school in Cardiff promoting badminton. As well as interacting with the children we gave a demonstration. It was great fun and I think the children really enjoyed it too. Along with my sisters I run various Badminton Wales tournaments that are held in Welshpool. I have done this for several years now. I feel it is our duty to put something back into our community, especially after receiving so much help ourselves from others. I am still training with Eddie Sutton whilst I am living at home, and also frequently in Cardiff, where the national squad trains under the supervision of Matt Hughes.
Nevertheless I don’t think I would have achieved all of this success if it wasn’t for my parents who have supported me and spent so much time driving me to the many competitions and training sessions over the years. I also need to thank Badminton Wales for all of their backing and support too. With this in mind I am highly motivated to succeed in my 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games campaign, and hope that I can do my family and my country proud.