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.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003