ENGLISH NATIONAL BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS 2010 By Richard Eaton

That's even more special when you consider that some sports regard such championships as an anachronism and have dropped them. Badminton shows no signs of doing that, and Robertson shows no intention of abandoning them either, well into his 33rd year.
 
"When we were growing up the nationals were a big priority. So we have learnt to value it highly," Robertson said. "I think maybe in the future it will decline as players' international results become more important. Hopefully pride will keep people playing."
 
Robertson should defend the Men's Doubles title with Anthony Clark and, having beaten Olympic champions Markus Kido and Hendra Setiawan this year, they will be the tournament's biggest ticket sellers as well as strong favourites for a fifth title.
 
Nevertheless, they suffered a surprising loss to Robert Blair and Chris Adock in the Danish Open in October, something which gave Blair, the former Scottish international, immense satisfaction, for Robertson said in March that Blair shouldn't be in an England team, and didn't like playing alongside him. If the two pairs meet again in Manchester, don't touch any loose wires.
 
Robertson may also try to regain the Mixed Doubles title, though so far his partnership with Jenny Wallwork hasn't quite generated the chemistry required for them to get the better of his great buddy Clark and Donna Kellogg, the European Champions.
 
Clark may well win two titles for the third successive year, underlining a claim to being England's outstanding player. His two partnerships he describes as "an amazing bonus."
 
"I am very close with both," Clark said. "I've been best friends with Nathan since I was 13, and my first England junior match was with Donna, so we go back many years. I feel like Nathan can tell me anything, and the same with Donna.
 
"Sometimes what you have to say can be quite brutal and if someone's a good friend you can say things which offend them. But if you are treading on eggshells, you are only going backwards."
 
Kellogg's chances of also winning two titles again have suffered from the lack of a top class Women's Doubles partner in the last 12 months. This presents an opportunity for Jenny Wallwork and Gabby White, last year's losing finalists.
 
The Men's Singles will see the steadily improving Rajeev Ouseph, now on the verge of the world's top 20, favoured to defend the title – unless the former England number one Andrew Smith has a change of heart. But Carl Baxter could give Ouseph trouble.
 
 
Liz Cann, three times the Womens' Singles champion, will be wanting to atone for last year's sensational final, when she held a match point before losing 27-25 in the final game to part-timer Jill Pittard. But Sarah Walker, Helen Davies, Rachel Howard, Kate Robertshaw, and Panuga Riou will all want to show it's time for someone younger to step up.
 
In fact progress is assured only in one area – prize money. For only the second time in the history of the championship, the Women's Singles winner will earn as much as men's.
 
The English National Championships will be staged at the Manchester Velodrome from the 5th to 7th February 2010.
 
For more information, visit: www.isportgroup.com/EnglishNationalBadmintonChampionships
 
Issued by iSPORTmedia

Although Nathan Robertson has been competing for a decade and a half, has won World, Commonwealth and European titles, and won't receive anything like the financial rewards he does for international competition, he still likes to play in the English Nationals.