Jessica Pugh fuelled by confidence and home crowd in Commonwealth quest

·2 min read
Jessica Pugh fuelled by confidence and home crowd in Commonwealth quest

Self-confidence is a must for all elite athletes, and Telford badminton star Jessica Pugh has it in spades, especially when roared on by a home crowd in Birmingham.

Pugh and mixed doubles partner Callum Hemming eased past Jamaican duo Joel Angus and Katherine Wynter to book their spot in the last eight.

It took the pair just 23 minutes to dispatch their opponents 2-0 (21-11, 21-7) as they whipped the audience into raptures at the NEC.

And Pugh admits that having everyone behind them can make a real difference on court.

“It’s incredible, it really spurs you on and makes it so much better for us playing,” said Pugh, who now faces Malaysia’s Kian Meng Tan and Jing Pei Lai in the quarterfinals.

“We’re not here just to win but to inspire as well – all the kids in the crowd, they’re coming up in the next generation, we’re here to show how fun it is.

“Neither of us have really played in front of a crowd like that too often, so any opportunity we get we grow, we get more confident, more positive.

“We know on our best day we can beat anyone here so that’s what we’re trying to do.”

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.

Pugh and Hemming looked serene as they swatted their opponents aside in under half an hour, and the 25-year-old was pleased to complete the job quickly.

“Yesterday was a tough match, that was 46 minutes which took it out of us a little bit so we’re lucky to have one of those games today we can finish quickly, get through it,” added Pugh.

“We’ll do our best to recover for tomorrow which is going to be a much harder game.

“Hopefully, we can find a performance again.”

The pair know they are now just one match away from playing in a medal match, and Hemming, 23, is not just here to make up the numbers.

“We want to go as far as possible, we want to go the full way here,” said Hemming, who is making his Commonwealth Games debut.

“We’re just trying to take every game and embrace everything that’s out there, take it all in.

“It’s a good opportunity playing in front of crowds like that and having them on your side is even better.

“It’s just about focusing on ourselves. Today was an opportunity to find our dimensions on court and get used to it out there.”

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