GB Head Coach Jakob Hoi is looking forward to seeing Team GB’s badminton stars battle it out on the highest stage of all after the official draw was made for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Headlining the eight-strong squad bound for Rio, Chris and Gabby Adcock – ranked seventh in the world and winners of the World Superseries Finals in Dubai in December – have been drawn in group B, where they will face Danish fourth seeds and London 2012 bronze medallists Joachim Fischer and Christina Pedersen.
The group will also see them pit their wits against China’s Xu Chen and Ma Jin – winners of Olympic silver four years ago in London – and Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Zieba of Poland, and while Hoi admits it is a tough draw for the married pair, he remains confident that the Adcocks have what it takes to overcome the battle.
“Everyone talks about Chris and Gabby because they have been the highest ranked Brits consistently for three years, and they have been drawn into an absolute killer group,” he said.
“I think the others in the group will think the same, but they will go into that group with a lot of respect for Chris and Gabby. But things can happen in that group, people can beat each other.
“Chris and Gabby have an open chance because they have beaten almost everyone in the world.
“They haven’t played Xu Chen and Ma Jin many times. They then have the Danish pair and they have played some really good matches against them. I think they will be quite nervous about playing us so it will be a really open match.
“The Polish pair are former world number ones so we cannot underestimate them, they play very clever badminton.
“I would say that the group as a whole is very strong, so we’ll need to see top performances from Chris and Gabby.”
In the men’s singles, 13th seed Rajiv Ouseph will play Japan’s Sho Sasaki and Czech Republic’s Petr Koukal, while in the women’s singles 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Kirsty Gilmour – seeded 11th – will take on an all-European group after being placed into group D alongside Bulgaria’s Linda Zetchiri and Sabrina Jaquet of Switzerland.
“It’s a very good draw for Kirsty, because she will face two Europeans who she knows very well,” said Hoi.
“Of course, that puts some expectation on her but it’s not just about the group. She has the capabilities to do well.
“Rajiv just has to be mentally strong, and I think if he can do that, I can definitely see Raj having a good tournament.”
The British men’s pairing of Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis will face third seeds Kim Gi-jung and Kim Sa-rang of Korea, as well as London 2012 silver medallists Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark and Adam Cwalina and Przemyslaw Wacha of Poland.
Hoi said: Looking at the world rankings, it’s a really tough draw for the boys but we should see it as an opportunity.
“I think Chris and Marcus have a good chance of winning the group, but I also know how good the Koreans can be coming to an Olympics. But I can really see a quarter-final opportunity for the guys.”
In the women’s doubles, Lauren Smith and Heather Olver will take to the court against Indonesians Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Greysia Polii, Poon Lok Yan and Tse Ying Suet of Hong Kong and Malaysian duo Vivian Hoo Kah Mun and Woon Khe Wei.
“I think it is a very interesting draw for them,” said Hoi.
“The Indonesians are huge favourites, but we have played some really good matches.
“We were the last qualifying pair in the women’s doubles, so we will go into every match as underdogs with a chance to stress the Hong Kong and Malaysian pairs. We should make it really difficult for our opponents.”
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games starts on 5 August, while the badminton competition begins on 11 August.