Badminton: English pair in pursuit of title

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GILL CLARK and Gillian Gowers, the world's longest established pair, begin another attempt today to win the world's oldest tournament, writes James Leigh. The English national doubles champions are seeded third and are desperate to do well. Another realistic chance may not present itself at the 94th Yonex All-England championships at Wembley.

Indeed, it looked as though their last chance had gone. Two years ago they split, but with different partners remained the nearly women of the circuit. This season, with the world champions retired and one half of the Olympic champion pairing gone, a fresher and more versatile looking Clark and Gowers came close to taking the world grand prix title.

'I think we have as good a chance as ever. The break has really made us think and work on other areas of our game,' Clark said. The draw, though, has not been kind, probably giving them young Koreans in the second round, a dangerous quarter-final with either the leading Indonesians or a rising Chinese pair, and a scheduled semi-final with Yao Fen and Lin Yanfen, the title holders from China who ended their world grand prix ambitions.

Home hopes are limited in other events, though Clark and Nick Ponting are seeded to reach the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles and Darren Hall, the first English winner of the Danish Open for 50 years, has a chance of further fame in the men's singles. The six-times English national champion has a probable last 16 with the favourite, Heryanto Arbi, of Indonesia.

The women's singles top seed is Susi Susanti, the Olympic champion from Indonesia, who faces serious challenges from South Korea's Bang Soo-Hyun, China's Ye Zhaoying and Tang Jiuhong, the title holder and world champion from China.