After Olympic disappointment, badminton star Heather bids to make up for lost time

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IT’s all change for Eastbourne’s Heather Olver as she attempts to iron out the creases of not one but two new badminton partnerships, writes Ben Baker.

But she insists all the signs are positive as she bids to put the disappointment of missing out on the London 2012 Olympics firmly behind her.

After missing out on London 2012 with Mariana Agathangelou, Olver has been busy trying to adjust to new doubles partners – teaming up with Kate Robertshaw in the women’s and Chris Langridge in the mixed.

But, despite this double change, Olver has shown no signs of needing time to bed in, reaching the finals of the Belgian, Welsh and Czech Internationals with Langridge, losing two but winning the latter against compatriots Marcus Ellis and Gabby White.

And with Olver and Robertshaw also winning in the Czech Republic, as well as the Swiss International, the 26-year-old believes the future is bright no matter who is beside her.

“Things aren’t going too badly at the moment and obviously I have two new partnerships to bed in but things are going well and both are heading in the right direction so I am excited about seeing what happens in the New Year and the next few tournaments,” said Olver.

“Things have started off well playing with Kate. With her being predominantly a singles player in the past I thought it would take some time to gel but it hasn’t at all.

“She has picked up playing doubles really quickly and we have had some good results already.

“And with Chris he hadn’t played mixed doubles for a while but things are looking really positive there too.

“We talk a lot and already the communication is good which is important in a new partnership and it helps speed up the process.

“Chris and I are older players and I feel like we can talk about what works and what doesn’t so we have already been making adjustments and it was good to get that win in the Czech Republic even though Marcus had to retire.”

Just four British badminton players qualified for London 2012 – mixed doubles pairing Imogen Bankier and Chris Adcock and men’s and women’s singles specialists Rajiv Ouseph and Susan Egelstaff.

Neither of them tasted much success though, all falling at the group stages at the Wembley Arena, leaving Olver determined to prove she can perform better at the next Olympics in Rio in 2016.

“Rio in 2016 is obviously still quite a long way off but it is always in the back of your mind,” she added.

“It was pretty gutting not to qualify for London 2012 as it was a once in a lifetime chance to play at a home Olympics.

“The buzz around London was immense and just watching it made it even more gutting. But Kate is young and we are both eager to do well and mark it there in four years time.”

l Tickets for every day of the English National Badminton Championships are available at www.nationalbadmintonchamps.co.uk or call the box office on 0844 5811 424