Badminton: England do things the Wright way

Click to follow
The Independent Online
NICK PONTING and Joanne Wright ended a wait of nine years since the home country last won a title at the world's oldest and most prestigious tournament when the English national mixed doubles champions beat their compatriots, Chris Hunt and Gill Clark, in the All-England Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham on Saturday.

Ponting and Wright's 15-10, 15-11 win not only earned them a place on the roll of honour but came as a timely boost to English morale after last month's failure to qualify for the world team finals for the first time. With mixed doubles now an Olympic event, Ponting and Wright could go on to do well in Atlanta in 1996.

Their victory, despite the absence of the two best mixed players, Denmark's Thomas Lund and Sweden's Catrine Bengtsson, who were injured, suggests Olympic success is possible.

Ponting, a world bronze medallist at mixed doubles, was mobile and confident and Wright, suffering from a groin injury and playing against doctor's orders, is the best new talent in the England squad for many years.

Clark, meanwhile, came close to reaching the final of the women's doubles when she and Julie Bradbury held five match points against Chung So-Young and Gil Young-Ah, who went on to retain their title.

The absence of Clark will cause raised eyebrows if, as predicted, she is omitted from the mixed doubles in England's team to be announced today for next month's European Championships.