Badminton: England go in search of medals

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The Independent Online
THE outstanding achievement of Nick Ponting and Joanne Wright in becoming the first home winners of an All-England championship for nine years last month has created hope that an injury-hit England squad can still win several medals when their European Championship campaign begins in Den Bosch, the Netherlands, today, writes James Leigh.

Ponting and Wright look good enough to challenge for the mixed doubles title even though they have not been seeded in the top four. First, however, their talents will be needed in the team events today and tomorrow when they will try to ensure that England do not slip out of the top three for the first time in their history.

Their principal concern is Russia, who were not far from denying them the bronze medal last time.

Denmark is one country who would appear to be seriously hampered by injuries. The favourites will be without the Olympic bronze medallist, Thomas Stuer-Lauridsen, and the two best men's doubles players in the world, Thomas Lund and Jon Holst- Christensen.

The absence of Darren Hall, the 1988 European champion, because of a back injury, leaves England with little hope of winning a singles title. The individual events begin on Wednesday.

However, the formidable hitting power of Simon Archer and Chris Hunt could mean they will be in contention for the men's doubles, while both Joanne Wright and Gillian Gowers, and Julie Bradbury and Gill Clark, could cover themselves in glory in the women's doubles. Any one of three English pairs have a chance in the mixed.