National title is olympic size boost for doubles ace Olver

Heather Olver
Heather Olver

EASTBOURNE’S Heather Olver believes retaining her English Nationals Badminton Championships title will provide a timely confidence boost as she looks to book her place at this summer’s Olympic Games.

Olver and her partner Lauren Smith once again claimed the women’s doubles title at the weekend with a 19-21, 21-18, 21-7 victory over Sophie Brown and Kate Robertshaw, making it three English Nationals titles for the former Heathfield Communtiy College pupil.

And the duo have a huge year ahead of them as they aim to reach the world’s top-16 by May 5 to ensure they are on the plane to the Rio Olympics, with the duo currently in 30th place.

“Our performances at the Nationals gives us confidence as we chase qualification for Rio,” said Olver, who also made it to the quarter-finals of the English Nationals mixed doubles with Harley Towler but lost 21-15, 21-15 to reigning Commonwealth Games champions and eventual winners Chris Adcock and his wife Gabby.

“We performed well and we stuck together because we had a few tough games and didn’t play at our best in the earlier rounds.

“Hopefully that kind of play can take us through to the next games and give us confidence that if we are still down then we can bring it back.”

The day after the Nationals finished Olver and Smith were on opposite sides on Monday night in the AJ Bell National Badminton League.

Olver was alongside Sarah Walker for Birmingham Lions while Loughborough Sport’s Smith partnered Jenny Wallwork in the Sir David Wallace Arena at Loughborough University.

And it was Smith and her partner Wallwork who kept Loughborough Sport’s hopes of victory alive by beating Olver and Sarah Walker 9-8, 9-5, 9-4.

The hosts went on to win the fixture 3-2 to book their place in the AJ Bell NBL Finals Day on May 8, although Olver’s Birmingham Lions remain in a strong position to make the play-offs with one group match remaining.

Olver added: “I am pretty disappointed to lose. I don’t think anything in particular went wrong. We started strong but then made a few errors and they came out strong. As a whole, the team’s performance has been good this season and it is good that the boys won their games at the start of the night.

“I was really pleased with my performance at the Nationals, although I think it led to fatigue in the AJ Bell NBL. It is a shame that we couldn’t replicate that form in the NBL.”