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Catch up with Lauren Smith - ISSUE 2 (MK)

"Hi everyone, my name is Lauren Smith. I am a professional badminton player and now Disclosure’s resident badminton columnist! As I’m new I’ll start with a bit of an introduction…"

I moved to Milton Keynes 10 years ago to train full-time at the National Badminton Centre. In that time I’ve won 10 national titles, 5 commonwealth games medals, 1 European gold, and competed in the Rio 2016 Olympics. I am now ranked 9 and 15 in the world and aiming to go to the Tokyo Olympics (a year later than planned.)

I started playing badminton in Carlisle when I was 7 years old at a club my parents went to. I could barely hit the shuttle when I started so I certainly wasn’t a natural, but I enjoyed the community at the club and I'm pretty stubborn, so I stuck it out.

I made it on to the England Juniors at 13 but was taken off again at 14, it was a huge blow but one that shaped me in the long run. I could have quit at that point but I wanted to prove them wrong (see, stubborn!). Playing was a huge commitment with events most weekends and given my location few were closer than 3 hours drive.

With a lot of determination and help from my parents and coach, I was invited back onto England juniors when I was 16 and never looked back!

I’m 29 now, and I can’t get over how my years in Milton Keynes have flown! I was born in Cumbria and went to university in Leeds so it was a big move for me to come to MK. I loved the quietness and green space up north so I’ll admit I was sceptical about moving to a place famous for concrete cows! But I’ve grown to love MK. It's got everything you could ever need, loads of green space and some brilliant independent businesses. I’m proud to call it home now.

Another reason the years have flown by is the hectic tournament schedule. Before Rio, I played 30 tournaments in 52 weeks spanning all 5 continents!

With badminton being so big in Asia, many of the

top events are there, so I’ve certainly racked up the

air miles and seen some incredible parts of the world! Often I don’t get time to explore the cities but whenI do I count myself very lucky to have a ‘job’ that

takes me around the world.

As it has for most, this last year has been a real change of pace! For 3 months I couldn’t get on court and there wasn’t a competitive event for 8 months. Fortunately, tournaments are slowly getting going again, with the unwelcome addition of regular covid tests, hotel quarantines, and long airport queues.

It felt like the huge break took some momentum away and I’m missing the atmosphere from a crowd but I’m gradually getting back into the groove! And my big focus now is the rescheduled 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.

After quite a solitary year, I can’t wait to see the Olympics unite people again and hopefully give us all a good reason to celebrate!

Follow my journey.

Instagram: @laurensmith

Twitter: @laurene_smith

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