In a series of articles in the build up to qualification for Rio 2016 we asked our Olympic Council of Ireland scholarship athletes to provide updates for our website on how they are progressing. Chloe Magee is now one of the world’s top 25 Badminton players and with her brother Sam has a double target for Rio – qualification for ladies singles and the mixed doubles.
“First up Putting into words the emotions of the last few months is quite difficult. If I start back at last October when I travelled to China to take part in two Super series tournaments and it ended very short when I injured my knee in our first game of mixed. I had just come of a very good period of training and tournaments, one of which helped team Ireland qualify for the European Team championships in Belgium where only the top 12 teams in Europe would compete. This was huge for us as a country and a really big boost for everyone involved in making Badminton in Ireland come to this level. But unfortunately after it all it meant time off for me and a lot of rehab to try recover and be ready for 2015.
After a very long few weeks my knee did make a lot of progress but not as fast as I would have liked. I missed Irish Open in December and most of January was spent trying to get my feeling on court back. The Irish Nationals is always first week in February and it was a goal I set myself to try and get back on court. It was important if I was going to play the European Team Championships in Belgium the next week that I could get some on court time, so I felt the Nationals would be a good marker of my form.
I can happily say I won both Ladies Singles and the mixed Doubles with Sam. It was my 9th Singles title and my 8th mixed title, something I’m quite proud of. But after that it was off to Belgium and although I definitely wasn’t fully back to my best I wanted to go and represent Ireland.
We had Belgium and England in our group and knowing if we beat Belgium we had a good chance to qualify for the last 8. Everyone played very well and a 3-2 win over Belgium was a great start. I was delighted to be able to put two points on the board and get back to competition again. The next day was against England and this one, after a discussion with my physio and coach, we decided it was better to rest and focus on the last 8 so we could have the best possible chance. So we fielded a young team against a full strength England and we lost 5-0 but there was a lot of positives to take.
So finally we drew a show down with the number one seeds Denmark, probably the team everyone wants to avoid, but so it was and we went out with some huge performances and ended losing 3-1. I was very happy to be able to beat the Danish number one to put a point on the board but as an all round team Denmark were just better and showed that by taking home gold from Belgium. Reflecting back on Belgium I was very happy to have been back on court and looking forward to German Open, All Englands and Swiss Open in the coming few weeks.
All three of these tournaments are the higher tier tournaments and your always sure to come up against the best in the world but that’s exactly where we want to be. All three tournaments came and went so fast but we took a lot of things from them all. Swiss Open in my Mixed doubles with Sam, we played a top 6 in the world Chinese pair, we lost here but we showed good level that day. All England’s we played the defending champions from the year before and also a top 6 in the world pair from Indonesia, again we felt we played much better against this pair than we ever have in the past but they showed why they are where they are in the rankings and beat us in two straight sets.
But the German Open was definitely the highlight of our three weeks. From round one we played a really good level and progressed to the semi final beating the world number 10 in the quarters which was a huge result for us. We brought a lot back from that tournament but mostly we brought a lot of confidence that our training was paying off. Along with good performances always comes a lot of positive things but a big one for us was it also earned us our highest ever ranking of 23 in the world.
After that period of competition I took the decision to take 8 weeks just training before Olympic qualification starts in May. My knee had improved a lot but it was still in the back of my mind and causing me small problems so I felt a good training block would put me in the best possible condition for the tough year ahead. I can happily say 4 weeks into that block I am pleased with how its going and I’m looking forward to getting out there in May and starting the Road to Rio!
I can honestly say its been an up and down few months but my whole career I don’t think its ever been any other way but full of ups and downs, so maybe I should start calling that ‘normal’. It has been a very challenging time and I’m very lucky to have such good people around me to make it that little bit easier, from my coach on court, to my physio and Strength and Conditioning coach behind the scenes in the Institute of Sport! Badminton Ireland, The Olympic Council, The Irish Sports Council for the support these guys give us, this journey would not be possible without their help. An exciting year lies ahead, I’ll keep you updated! ”
You can follow Chloe on Twitter @cloenmagee and also learn more about Chloe in our athlete interview from our playlist on youtube