It has been 13 years since Gail Emms announced herself as one of the country’s top badminton stars by claiming her first Commonwealth Games medal in Manchester 2002.
That gold in the mixed team was the first on an impressive resumé that would see Emms add Olympic silver with Nathan Robertson, World Championship gold, two European golds, and another four Commonwealth medals before calling time on her career.
Since then no English player has scaled the heights that Emms achieved when she and Robertson took silver in Athens and victory at the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships.
But, having witnessed the progression of British number one pairing Chris and Gabby Adcock – who claimed Commonwealth gold in Glasgow last year – Emms is convinced the golden years are set to return to English badminton.
The husband and wife pair are currently ranked sixth in the world in mixed doubles and between them already have seven Commonwealth Games medals to their names.
And while Emms – who retired after the Beijing Olympics in 2008 – is still the barometer of success for English badminton stars, she believes the Adcocks are ready to step out of her shadow.
“I’d love to say we have a great chance at the Olympics in all five events but we haven’t unfortunately. We’ve got a chance in one with the mixed doubles and Chris and Gabby Adcock,” she said.
“It is a pity but we can only do what we can. We don’t have 100 million people playing badminton.
“We are Great Britain so if Chris and Gabby are our only hope then let’s get behind them.
“It’s ten years since I won at the All England and I think it would be amazing if they could mark that with a win.
“There’s always me and Nathan hanging over them so I think it would be nice for them to say it’s not Gail and Nathan, its Chris and Gabby now.
“They are very good and are comfortably within the top ten and can make a real impact on any level. There are three mixed doubles pairs who are very good and that’s the problem.
“I think for them to get some more wins against the top three would just be incredible and their confidence would go through the roof.
“If they climb up the world rankings people will see that we have a chance in the badminton and we will have more attention and eyes on the sport.
“They are still young though and are still developing as players. But they have been around for so long and have that experience on their side as well.
“If it doesn’t happen in Rio for them then there’s always Tokyo and they can look towards that.”
Despite her retirement, Emms featured at last week’s National Championships in Crawley, where she reached the quarter-finals, and she admitted the chance of a rare run out was far too tempting.
“I played last year in the nationals and then again this year and those two tournaments were the first time I’d played competitively since I retired,” she added.
“There were a few things that made me come back really. I don’t miss playing at the extreme levels like the guys here.
“But I do miss playing and I think it’s important to try and give something back and I think I’ve still got it.
“The head says yes but my body says no! But I just really wanted to play and we have a shortage of girls at the moment.
“In mixed doubles there will always be an opportunity to because there will be a guy who might not have a partner.
“Getting to the quarters was great especially considering the lack of training.
“It’s nice to leave the intensity behind and be able to be satisfied with what you have done and be able to keep your emotions in check and enjoy it.
“When you’re playing at the top level it’s really easy to forget that enjoyment.”
© Sportsbeat 2015