Sports

Magees make Irish badminton history

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Magees make Irish badminton history thumbnailSam and Chloe Magee proudly show off their European Championship bronze medals, the first major badminton medals won by Ireland.

RAPHOE siblings Chloe and Sam Magee made history at the weekend buy winning Ireland's first ever European Badminton Championship medal in Denmark.

The Magees beat Polish pair Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Zieba to guarantee themselves a bronze medal and a spot in Saturday's mixed doubles semi-finals, but couldn't overcome home favourites Christina Pederson and Joachim Fisher Nielson at the championships in Kolding.

It was still a tremendous week for the Donegal pair, who created a mini upset on Tuesday by beating bronze medallists from 2016, Dutch duo Selena Piek and Jacco Arends. They followed that up by beating France's Bastian Kersaudy and Lea Palermo on Thursday to go through to the final eight.

Chloe landed back at Dublin airport on Monday morning after the late medal ceremony on Sunday night, with Sam jetting off to Spain for a well-earned break. She was given a hero's welcome by supporters and the press upon arrival, and for Ireland's latest sporting history-maker, it hadn't quite sunk in.

"It was just a crazy week. Everything kind of ran into each other and we got confidence from each game we played," she told reporters.

"I've always played well at the Europeans. Last year Sam and Myself were in the quarter-final, and although we missed out there, we played very well.

"People only seem to take notice when you come home with medals, and thank fully for Sam and myself, this is a medal for the whole of Badminton Ireland."

For Magee, who was the first Irishwoman to win an Olympic Games badminton match in 2008 in Beijing, the medal had been long overdue.

"It feels fantastic. It has been a long time coming. I've trained for almost ten years for this medal, so it just feels very good right now to get a major medal for Ireland.

"There has been quite a few times where I've almost gave up the sport, there's been a lot of lows, so this one day of winning a medal cancels out all those lows in some way."

The Magees didn't have it easy on their run to the semi's, having to overcome world-class opponents in Holland's Piek and Arends right from the off.

"We had the number five seeds first round. If we didn't play well there, we were going home first day.

"The semi-final was against the number one seeds, number three in the world at the minute. They're world-class players.

It was always going to be very tough to beat them. It was more for us to go out there and challenge them, 'could we challenge the best in the world?'. It was a little bit disappointing on the day, but the quarter-finals was a big mental challenge."

Winning the medal with her brother Sam was also a special moment for Chloe, who she says has shared her badminton journey through almost her entire life.

"Me and Sam, we've played together since we were four or five years of age. We've grew up together, we've done nearly everything together. Last year we had the disappointment of not qualifying for Rio (2016 Olympics). After Rio I decided to focus on mixed and I think it has definitely paid off.

"My mum and dad have always supported us since we were young, and they've always given us every opportunity to be the best that we can be. They've never stopped us doing anything in badminton that we wanted to do, so we owe a lot to them. It's nice to bring the medal to Donegal as well."

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