Badminton ace bound for Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games
18-year-old Grace King in action (Credit: BadmintonPhoto)
TASS: When did you start playing badminton and where?
Grace King: I started playing at my local leisure centre in Derby when I was 11. I used to play tennis and I wanted to try and improve my serve so I thought badminton was going to help me with that. I ended up enjoying badminton more than tennis!
TASS: What attracted you to badminton?
GK: I loved that there were loads of different elements to the sport. You needed to be skilful, fast and agile which made it really interesting.
TASS: At what point did you realise that badminton was only going to become a bigger part of your life?
GK: When I won the Under 13 national championships I think I realised I was good enough for it to become more than just hobby.
TASS: When did you receive your first international call-up and how did that first tournament work out?
GK: I received my first international call up at 13 when I was selected to represent England at a tournament in Denmark. I was so nervous and excited that I remember struggling to control my emotions and I lost in the first round. But I still loved the experience.
TASS: How have you been able to juggle your academic workload with your sport as you’ve got older?
GK: I think time management has been massively important. I always make a weekly study and training plan and try to stick to it to ensure I’m efficient with my time.
TASS: Where will you be studying this year and what subjects or course will you be taking?
GK: I’m studying international business with a foundation year on the elite sport pathway at Loughborough University.
TASS: How many hours a week are you training/playing right now?
GK: I’m not currently competing as I’m in my final stages of rehab but I’m in a heavy training block ahead of the Youth Olympics which consists of roughly 20 hours on court and eight hours of strength and fitness sessions.
TASS: What is your schedule between now and the start of the Youth Olympic Games and do you have any warm-up tournaments between now and October?
GK: I’m not playing in any warm up tournaments meaning the Youth Olympics will be my first competitive event since my injury. My schedule over the next month is focused around settling into my academic studies and working hard in training to ensure I’m ready for the games in October.
TASS: Have you set a target for Buenos Aires and where do you see your toughest challenges coming from?
GK: The competition will be extremely tough and I don’t want to set a target and put a ceiling on what I can achieve. Everybody who has qualified to compete will be of a really good level so I anticipate every match to be tough. But I’m excited to challenge myself against the best in the world
TASS: How exciting is it to be involved in such a prestigious global event and will next month represent the pinnacle of your badminton career?
GK: It always been my dream to compete for Team GB at an Olympic event and I’m really proud that I’ll be able to do that in Argentina. The Youth Olympics will be the biggest event I have competed in so far, although I’m hoping to one day qualify for the senior Olympics.
TASS: What are you looking forward to most about representing your country in a multi-sport international event?
GK: I’m looking forward to watching and supporting my team mates in lots of different sports when I’m not competing – particularly weightlifting. That’s always been my favourite sport to watch during the Olympics.
TASS: What do you know about Argentina and Buenos Aires?
GK: I’ve never been to Argentina but I’ve been told Buenos Aires is a really diverse city so I’m excited to learn about the people and the culture. I’ve never been to South America so I’m really excited to see what it’s all about. So far, my favourite country to compete in has been Mauritius. It’s such a beautiful place and I got to meet and play against athletes from really cool countries such as the Maldives and Bahamas. I will cherish those memories forever and I’m looking forward to making more.
TASS: Away from your sport what do you enjoy and how do you relax?
GK: When I’m not playing I love spending time with my friends and family and talking about things that aren’t badminton related. That helps me to switch off and relax.
The TASS-supported athletes competing at the Youth Olympic Games are:
- Daniel Thompson – 18/19
- Grace King – 17/18, 18/19
- Javier Bello – 18/19
- Joaquin Bello – 18/19
- Karol Itauma – 18/19
- Georgina Robinson Ranger – 18/19