Robertson and Emms one match away from badminton gold

When Nathan Robertson arched his back to see Jonas Rasmussen's lob shot drop outside the tramlines of court one in the Goudi Olympic Hall yesterday, sheer joy and disbelief coursed through his long, linear frame in equal measure.

When Nathan Robertson arched his back to see Jonas Rasmussen's lob shot drop outside the tramlines of court one in the Goudi Olympic Hall yesterday, sheer joy and disbelief coursed through his long, linear frame in equal measure.

He flung his headband away, jumped in the air and sank to the ground on his back, his legs bent double under his body. Had it not been for the brown hair and the shape of the racket, he could have been Bjorn Borg.

Robertson is from Nottingham, not Södertälje. He is also one match away from a golden first for British racket sport. The wait for Tim Henman to deliver on Borg's old patch on SW19 might have turned into an eternally unfulfilling quest, but Robertson and his mixed doubles partner, Gail Emms, could be Britain's first Olympic badminton champions by 6pm BST today.

The capeless dynamic duo are already Britain's most successful Olympians in their sport. With their rousing victory against Rasmussen and Rikke Olsen, 15-6, 15-2, they cleared the semi-final hurdle and the possible pitfall of a winner-takes-all bronze medal match.

At the very least, they are guaranteed to take the silver medals. And that happens to be one shade of colour better than Britain's only previous reward from the Olympic badminton court: the bronze medals gained in the same event in Sydney four years ago by Joanne Goode, as she was at the time, and Simon Archer.

It was little wonder, then, that Robertson should lose control of his emotions - and that, after picking himself off the floor and hugging his equally joyous partner, he should make straight for the front row of the stands and pluck his daughter out of the crowd. "That's Neve," he said. "She's six. She's my biggest supporter."

Not that Emms was to be outdone. She had six members of her family in the raucous contingent of Union Jack-waving British supporters.

Among them was her mother, Jackie, who has her own claim to sporting fame. She played for England in the women's football world cup in Mexico in 1971.

The 5ft 4in Emms and the 6ft 2in Robertson are a little and large combination with considerably greater timing, delivery and punch than the "comedic" pairing of that name. They both play in the Danish League for the Hvidovre club. Robertson lives in Denmark during the season, while Emms commutes for matches from her home in Bedford.

Their Danish opponents yesterday were far from unfamiliar to them. They had, in fact, already beaten them several times already this year.

The task now, though, for the 27-year-olds is a daunting one. Their opponents in the final are the competition's number two seeds and the reigning Olympic champions, Gao Ling and Jun Zhang of China.

"We'll go in as the underdogs," Emms acknowledged. "We've got nothing to lose, and gold medals to gain. We've won our medals now. It's just a question of what colour they'll be.

"We can afford to go in relaxed, play our own game and just see what happens."

"I knew this was the biggest match of my life but I wasn't as nervous coming into it," said Robertson. "I was absolutely confident that we were going to win. We knew that if we just stuck to our plan we would keep scoring points and if we just played well we would win.

"We knew they have trouble serving, especially to me. Rikke [Olsen] seems to feel a lot of pressure when she's serving against me," added the Briton.

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