Badminton ace Olver closing in on Olympics

Heather Olver

Heather Olver

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After endless hours of training and competing, Eastbourne’s Heather Olver is edging closer to achieving her dream of making the Rio Olympics.

Olver and her women’s doubles partner Lauren Smith are currently 30th in the world rankings, with the top 16 on May 5 qualifying for the Rio Olympics.

However, the English pair won the US International in Florida in December and their ranking is expected to improve later this month.

Olver said, “The build-up to Rio is really exciting. There are just four months of qualifying left so I will see how we get on after the busy schedule.

“We are just on the brink of qualifying now so there are stressful but enjoyable times ahead.

“It is a very exciting time but it is hard as there are a lot of tournaments taking place and a lot of travel.

“I am looking forward to it and crossing my fingers that we can qualify so that we can concentrate on training and preparing for the Olympics.”

The 29 year-old was in action on Monday when she played her first AJ Bell National Badminton League match of the season.

Olver and her AJ Bell NBL partner Sarah Walker suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of former Olympic silver medallist Gail Emms and Kate Robertshaw at the University of Derby Sports Centre.

It was a closely-fought contest but in the end Team Derby’s Emms and Robertshaw extended their unbeaten record this season by taking the event 7-9, 9-6, 9-4, 9-4.

The evening ended on a high for Olver and Walker though as Birmingham Lions went on to win the fixture 3-2 on a tie-break.

It means Birmingham Lions are unbeaten in the AJ Bell NBL so far this season, with two league games remaining before the top four take part in the play-offs.

Games in the AJ Bell NBL only consist of nine points, rather than 21, and Olver admitted they struggled to get going in their match.

“We didn’t really get going and with the scoring system in the NBL it is crucial that you find your momentum quickly,” she added.

“It is strange because we did win the first game but I think we settled too much and let them come at us rather than the other way round.

“They played it really well. Our tactic was to try to get Gail at the back of the court but Kate did well to rotate to the back and we didn’t have the vision to see where the gaps were and we got into a bash-bash game which was ideal for them.”

– For AJ Bell NBL fixtures, tickets and team news visit nationalbadmintonleague.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @NBL_official