Preston’s Chloe Birch is among the 10-strong Team England badminton contingent who will represent the nation at the Commonwealth Games this April, in Australia’s Gold Coast.
England’s badminton stars will travel to Australia with royal backing, after members of the squad recently enjoyed a private invitation with HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, at Buckingham Palace.
HRH Prince Andrew, patron of Badminton England, chatted with each of the players and wished the team well ahead of the individual competition and team events at the Games.
Six of England’s badminton 10 for Gold Coast 2018, which starts on April 4, were part of that medal winning team who collected five medals, including gold, from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
World bronze medallists Chris and Gabby Adcock will look to defend their mixed doubles title that they won in Glasgow.
The married couple will be joined by reigning European champion Rajiv Ouseph, who, like the Adcocks will be competing in his third Games.
Glasgow 2014 medallists Chris Langridge, Sarah Walker and five-time national champion Lauren Smith are also named alongside Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Marcus Ellis.
Langridge won double silver and bronze at Glasgow 2014, whilst Smith marked her debut games with individual bronze and team silver medals.
They are joined by four players making their Commonwealth Games debut – including three reigning national champions.
2017 mixed doubles champions Ben Lane and Jess Pugh make the plane to Australia, alongside national singles champion Birch.
Marcus Ellis, Olympic bronze medallist and Commonwealth Games debutant, said: “I am really, really happy to be selected. It is always a great honour to represent your country in any event, but at a multi-sports event like the Commonwealth Games, it is a real honour.
“I will be making my debut at the Commonwealth’s, so it is something new and exciting for me.”
Gabby Adcock, world bronze medallist and reigning Commonwealth Games champion, said: “I feel really proud and honoured to be able to represent Team England again at another Commonwealth Games.”
Team England Chef de Mission Sarah Winckless added: “The badminton team of five men and five women come to Team England with a great wealth of experience and a hunger to perform at these Games, which is motivating to work with.
“I congratulate the selected athletes and am proud to work with this exciting and motivated group.”