Welshman Lewis Makes Funding Breakthough for Great Britain
Great Britain has regularly produced world-class players and is probably second only to Denmark in Europe when it comes to global rankings.
|However, British teams are almost always dominated by players from England. That is set to change with players from Wales gradually coming to the fore in the United Kingdom. |
There was a major breakthrough for Wales last week when their leading doubles specialist Martyn Lewis finally had his funding approved by the Great Britain authorities.
Welsh players have been ignored for financial help since the introduction of funding for badminton a while ago. But Lewis can proudly claim to be the first Welshman to become part of a group of players who Great Britain coaches believe have the potential to succeed on the global stage in the future.
"Firstly it's a great honour to be the first Welsh person to get onto the GB funding structure," Lewis said on icwales.com.
"It gives me the chance to further my badminton career hopefully for years to come. It also gives me a chance to reach my ultimate goal of playing in the 2012 Olympics in London."
However, being chosen for the programme does not come without challenges. Lewis must now prove that he deserves to among the elite group, and he has 12 months to do so.
Currently, he is in the level D category of players and has to reach level C status if he wants to continue receiving funding.
Level C is the minimum standard needed to be considered good enough to become a world-class player. Lewis has been training at the Great Britain badminton headquarters in Milton Keynes for almost two years under national doubles coach Tan Kim Her.
Last year, his regular partner and fellow Welshman Matthew Hughes went into semi-retirement and he is now developing a new partnership with England's Kristian Roebuck.
"Training has been going really well," Lewis was quoted as saying. "It's been a really hard five months and I've learned a lot from Tan Kim Her."
"It has been difficult to get used to playing with different doubles partners after playing with Matthew Hughes for six years.
"But it seems to be starting to gel with my new partners Kristian Roebuck and Natalie Munt in the mixed doubles. Hopefully in the near future it will bring some success."
Lewis and his partner are hoping to make an impact at the Austria International Challenge in February before taking on the world's best at the All England in Birmingham in March."
Great Britain coach Eddie O'Neil was delighted by Lewis' elevation to the funding ranks.
"Martyn has shown real determination to succeed since moving to Milton Keynes and I am 100 per cent certain that he will take this opportunity," O'Neil told the website.
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