After a hectic year, badminton’s national coach Dan Magee will lead the Irish team at next month’s World Championships in Guangzhou, China, where getting through the qualification tournament and into the main draw is the first priority.
Dan, the oldest member of the badminton-mad Magee family from Raphoe in Co Donegal, began his coaching career at the age of just 24 in 2009. That was just a year after sister Chloe had become only the second Irish female badminton player to play at an Olympic Games. In a memorable Games for Irish badminton, Scott Evans also qualified – the first locally-based Irish male player to make it.
Olympic qualification was again top priority once Dan took over the job and the last 12 months have been particularly hectic. Not only did he oversee the training schedules of Chloe and Scott, he supervised a pre-Games training camp with top international coach Lee Jae Bokat at Dublin’s Marino Institute of Education, where the Badminton Ireland High Performance Academy is based. This was attended by the Irish players and by 15 players from ten nations also heading for London.
It proved a memorable year. “High point for me was Chloe winning her opening match in the Olympics and then running China’s Pi Hongyan close in the second round.
“After that, we had a number of good results on the European circuit including mixed doubles wins for Chloe and Sam in Lithuania, Norway and Turkey, and Scott’s victory at the Irish Open in Baldoyle.”
At the World Championships, Chloe Magee and Scott Evans will compete in the singles, and Chloe and Sam Magee in the mixed doubles.
“All three players are training well. We have established a strong high performance team in Badminton Ireland , with the addition this year of Tom Reidy, himself an Olympian, Martina McCarthy who looks after strength and conditioning and Kate Kirby who is a sport psychologist.”
Earlier this season, Chloe and Sam reached the mixed doubles finals at the Dutch Open and produced strong showings at the Thai and Indonesian Opens, while Scott Evans was selected to play for Europe at the Axiata Cup in Asia. Junior squad members such as Jonathan Dolan, Alannah Stephenson and Joshua Magee are also starting to make their mark.
“In a short period, we have proved that we can win at European level and compete in Asia against the world’s best players. Younger players now have the opportunity to train five times a week at the BI Academy and can draw on the experience of Scott and Chloe. It means that in the future we can aim for major medals with some confidence. ”