For Australia’s Robin Middleton and Leanne Choo, qualifying to the Rio Olympics will be living a dream, and they promise to give it everything they have.
The Mixed Doubles duo, who qualified as Oceania’s continental representatives, are in Group C with Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir, Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying and Thailand’s Bodin Issara/Savitree Amitrapai.
“The Olympics is the highest sporting event you can qualify or play,” says Choo. “I’m proud to play for Australia. I always wanted to play the Olympics since I was 10 or 11. It definitely means everything to work this hard and be able to qualify.”
“For me personally, it’s everything,” seconds her partner Middleton. “I spent my whole life dreaming of going for the Olympics. So to be able to go and compete for the country is just phenomenal, it means everything.”
The Australians were ranked outside the top 100 at the beginning of the qualifying period last year, but made steady progress since then. Victories at the Sydney International last year and Oceania Individual Championships this year helped them along.
“It’s really important to keep trying to stay on that winning path because every win gives us confidence,” says Middleton. “When you play without confidence – you can see in any sport – the team generally play at the lower level than they can be. But when you start playing with confidence, which we get from winning those tournaments, then it helps us to believe that we can beat anyone and to get better results for the Olympics. So it’s really important that we keep on the winning track.”
This year they have performed creditably, making the semi-finals of the Brazil International Badminton Cup, the Yonex Canada Open and the Yonex US Open; their ranking consequently has risen to No.28. While they might not be as well-known as their group-mates, the Australians will back themselves to create an upset or two.
“Leanne what can be best described as a real fighter,” says Middleton. “I also fight a lot which means we can get hot-headed often, and we get too excited. But generally we work well together because we cheer each other on and keep going. So when we’re down, we know we can get back into it because we never give up.”
Catch Robin Middleton and Leanne Choo on Badminton Unlimited: