Since 2004, Rajiv Ouseph’s career has blossomed and the England No1 Men’s Singles badminton player views the Commonwealth Youth Games as a major factor in his development.
We caught up with Rajiv as he gets stuck into Rio qualification season just before Team England’s young athletes head to Samoa for the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games.
Team England: You were a member of England’s bronze medal winning badminton team at the Bendigo Commonwealth Youth Games in 2004 – how important was the Youth Games to your development?
Rajiv Ouseph: I think it was a really good experience as a youngster to be part of a multi-sport team and something I hadn’t experienced before and I think it stood me in quite good stead for any senior championships that I have been involved in.
And it gave me the chance to mix and watch other sports and also to focus on my own sport and how to deal with all those sorts of things at the same time.
TE: This year, England’s young athletes are travelling to Samoa for the 2015 Youth Games – what advice can you give them? Any tips on how to deal with being away from home and the distractions of village-life?
RO: It’s a new experience, you need to try and do as much as possible and take everything in but I think that you should make sure you have your coaches and team around you to help you out when you need it – if you have an issue, don’t keep it to yourself, get it sorted.
TE: Winning silver at Glasgow last year must have been a fantastic experience?
RO: Yes it really was. Going to a major games is always a great experience and it was good for us as a Team and having the support from the home crowd was brilliant.
For me, the Commonwealth Games has been one of my better experiences in my career, and the Youth Games was a major part in my development as it helped me know how to deal with stuff going into my senior career.
The Commonwealth Games have provided some of the highlights of my senior career. Winning team and individual medals in my first Games in Delhi in 2010, and last year getting a team medal and only narrowly missing out on an individual medal. They were very different experiences culturally but really enjoyable.
TE: In 2018, the Commonwealth Games is headed to Australia’s Gold Coast – is that a goal for you and would you love to go for Gold there?
RO: I am not sure if I will be playing at that stage – for me, I have been focussing on the Olympics next year and am taking it year after year at the moment but what a great place to be for the next one and I definitely wouldn’t want to rule it out.
There’s a badminton tradition of doing well in the Commonwealth Games, so whoever goes will want to carry that along.
TE: How did you enjoy the World Championships in Indonesia?
RO: It wasn’t a great one for me, I didn’t perform too well but I think in this Olympic qualifying year it’s important to learn from your mistakes as well as the victories.
Although I didn’t perform as well as I could have done, it gives me a chance to take it into perspective and try and use that in a more positive frame going forward.
TE: That’s a key ability for an athlete; taking stock and looking forward. Presumably that forward focus is now on Rio? How are preparations going?
RO: Preparation’s going well, Olympic qualifying has started now and is a long period but I have started pretty well and hopefully I can continue on that path.
TE: Best of luck from everyone at Team England!