Olympic ambition burns bright as Olver prepares for qualifying push

Heather Olver eastbourne.jpg
Heather Olver eastbourne.jpg

Eastbourne badminton ace Heather Olver admits it is a case of now or never to reach this summer’s Olympics with the Yonex All England Open marking the beginning of the end of her qualifying push.

Olver has seen the qualifying clock tick down to less than two months ahead of the All England Open where she and women’s double partner Mariana Agathangelou will bid for precious ranking points.

The 25-year-old and Agathangelou are currently 26th in the world, and while a place in the top 16 come May 3 will effectively guarantee their place, they are still allowed some leeway.

Restrictions on the number of players from each country and continental representation are likely to affect that top 16 figure but Olver knows she can’t rest on her laurels.

She and Agathangelou lost in the first round of last year’s All England Open although Olver insists they have improved since then and are determined to prove it with the Olympics in mind.

“We have had some good results this past year and performed very well so it is all positive and we are moving in the right direction and improving,” said Olver.

“Every tournament now is hugely important because of the points on offer.

“These are all big points now and we have to make sure we are doing well while others are not. And we are confident of catching them – we will do it.”

Olver and Agathangelou face a tough task to better last year’s first-round defeat with Xiaoli Wang and Yang Yu set to defend their title and runners-up Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa also in attendance.

“There isn’t one pair in the top 28 who isn’t playing so it’s going to be a huge challenge but it will be good to see where our level is and where we lie among the top players in the world,” she added.

To experience the worldwide London 2012 hopefuls battle it out for Olympic qualification points before the Games, purchase tickets to the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships from 6-11 March at the NIA, Birmingham www.allenglandbadminton.com