Badminton ace Olver eyes further success after All England Open glory

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HEATHER Olver insists she is a woman on a mission in 2015; hell-bent on claiming some major scalps at the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships next month.

Fresh from claiming the women’s doubles crown at the English National Championships in Crawley earlier this month alongside Lauren Smith; Olver is now turning her attentions to Birmingham and the YONEX All England - the first BWF Superseries Premier event of 2015 and one of the major’s of the sport.

Heather Olver

Heather Olver

The event attracts the best players from around the world and a crowd of over 35,000 spectators during the week and having triumphed domestically – Olver is desperate to make her mark on the global stage.

Last summer Olver featured at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where she experienced partisan crowds and vociferous support and now the Brit is planning to wow the fans at the newly refurbished Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham on March 3.

The event represents a step up in class but Olver is brimming with confidence after her National Championship success story and admits to already having one eye on the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

She said: “It was really great to do so well in the Nationals, especially down in Sussex as that’s where I’m from.

“I’ve been in five National finals already so it was great to get that title, especially at home. It’s a great stepping stone for Lauren and me as we have to learn how to win games and win tournaments, so it was a great achievement.

“At the moment as we’re a new partnership we are focusing on our own development rather than the outcome.

“So in terms of the All England, obviously it attracts the best players in the world so it will be really good to look at our level and what direction we need to go in to compete. That’s the main thing for us.

“We definitely have one eye on Rio and the Olympic Games. Qualifying starts in May so we’re trying to get ourselves into a good position to get into the main tournament and be seeded in that. So we’ve got up until May to get ready, and it’s a very exciting time for us.”

Olver is relishing the opportunity to test herself against the best players from around the world – in her words the YONEX All England Championships is the biggest tournament on the badminton calendar.

And having witnessed the pressures the English players experienced firsthand at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games; Olver is not fazed by the challenges waiting for her in Birmingham next month.

“It was definitely good to see how well badminton was received at the Commonwealth Games. We’d played in that hall in Glasgow before but every time we went out onto the court the cheers were incredible,” she added.

“It really inspired us to go on and play well so we owe a big thank you to everyone who was there.

We knew in the mixed doubles if we played well we could get through and get a medal, and to get to the final was just fantastic – it would be good to replicate those performances in Birmingham now in March.

“Everybody thinks it’s the best tournament in the world and everybody knows the quality. You’re going to get looked after and it’s a really nice place. There is just a stigma around the whole event.”

PLEASE LEAVE IN FINAL PAR – Tickets for the YONEX All England 2015 at the stunning new Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham are available at allenglandbadminton.co.uk or call the box office on 0844 444 9994.