London 2012 - Robertson focused on Games
March's All England Open Championships may be the next best thing on the badminton calendar but Olympic silver medallist Nathan Robertson insists London 2012 is firmly at the front of his mind.
Robertson, who won mixed doubles silver with Gail Emms at the Athens Games in 2004, will compete in Birmingham with Jenny Wallwork for the second time since their Olympic partnership began in 2009.
The 33-year-old was forced to withdraw through illness as his partnership with Wallwork began in earnest two years ago while their maiden outing in 2010 ended at the quarter-finals.
The pair, currently ranked ninth in the world, just missed out on a seeding for this year’s Championships but Robertson sees the tournament as little more than a stepping stone to London 2012.
"Ever since the Commonwealth Games last year in Delhi the Olympics have started to loom large," said Robertson – who alongside Wallwork won Commonwealth mixed doubles silver.
"It’s at the forefront of what we do although there are, of course, some milestones along the way. The main thing is to make sure we qualify for the Olympics as quickly as possible.
"And then from early next year we can start thinking about how we can make the podium. We were up at world number five last year but we’ve slipped down to number nine.
"It’s very tight at the top but it’s crucial that we establish ourselves inside the top eight. That will mean you get seeded at the big tournaments so it will be a lot easier to progress if you’re not meeting the best pairs early on in the draw."
Great Britain are well represented across every discipline at the Championships and will be hoping for a strong showing from current singles world No.15 Rajiv Ouseph.
The draw however has not been kind to Commonwealth silver medallist Ouseph as he faces Chinese sixth seed Chen Jin, the man who dispatched him comfortably in these championships last year.†††
"It’s a very tough draw but at the same time it presents a really good opportunity for me to see how far I’ve come since we last played," said Ouseph.
"We need results to prove ourselves in front of our home fans. People come out to watch in Birmingham for the All England Championships so it’s important we put on a good showing."
Carl Baxter will have much kinder draw if he can make the men’s singles main draw while European bronze medallists Heather Olver and Mariana Agathangelou will take on a team through qualifying in the women’s doubles first round.