The Suffolk Saxons are to make a dramatic return to the Ipswich Corn Exchange for a one-off exhibition match against University Loughborough on 3rd December.
The team will once again be led by Olympian and world silver medalist Anthony Clark who was in charge of the Saxons in the National Badminton League, before the league ceased in March 2017.
The long awaited return of the Saxons in this exhibition match against Loughborough, has been made possible by a partnership between Abbeycroft Leisure and Suffolk County Council, with the aim of recreating the excitement of the NBL, as well as inspiring more people to play badminton.
Anthony who is now an Ambassador and coach for Badminton England was in Suffolk to announce details of the exhibition match and name the team that will play against Loughborough. The team is:
Chloe Birch – Chloe is predominantly a women’s singles player but also plays doubles. She was runner-up in the 2016 English National Championships and has won 11 national junior titles.
Lauren Smith – Lauren competes on the world circuit in women’s doubles and mixed doubles. She is a double National Champion and has won medals at European and Commonwealth Games. Lauren also made her Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Games alongside Heather Olver.
Sean Vendy – Sean competes on the world circuit with Ben Lane in the men’s doubles. He has won national titles at every junior age group and was a runner-up in the European U19 Championships in 2015.
Callum Hemming – Callum won the silver medal at the 2014 European U15 Championships in the boys’ doubles event and 2016 European U17 Championships in the mixed team event. In 2017, he won his first senior title at the Iceland International tournament in the mixed doubles event.
Johnnie Torjuesson – Johnnie has won the National Singles title at Under 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19 proving what a force he is to be reckoned with in this format of the game. Johnnie is currently ranked #18 in the national rankings for singles, and #19 for men’s doubles.
Anthony said “I think it’s brilliant that we’re re-launching the Saxons for this exhibition match. The NBL was amazing for us as a team and we were all incredibly disappointed when the league ended. We always wanted the Saxons to inspire a generation to play badminton which is still one of the most popular and accessible sports in the world”
He continued, “The last time we played Loughborough in the NBL we won 3-2 in a match that was heralded as the best ever match the league had staged at that time and spectators left the arena exhilarated and exhausted. I’m confident that with the strong team we’ll be presenting against them on the 3rd December, the pace will be just as fast and spectators will not be disappointed.”
Warren Smyth, Abbeycroft Leisure’s CEO said, “We’ve been working on getting the Saxons back together for some time now and I’m thrilled that we’ve finally got an event that will entertain and inspire people to get involved in the sport. The Saxons academy was created following the team’s success in the NBL and we will continue to develop community badminton on the back of this exhibition match.”
Cllr James Reeder, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health said, “It’s great to welcome the Suffolk Saxons back to the county to not only renew old rivalries with Loughborough but also to provide a platform to promote badminton as an inclusive and accessible sport for all.”
This fixture is one part of a badminton pathway that is open to all. I have no doubt that it will inspire more people to pick-up a racket and give this fun and exciting sport a go and in doing so help our aspirations to become the most active county in England.”
Tickets for the match are on sale HERE.
For more information about the Suffolk Saxons visit www.suffolksaxons.com.
[Photo: Adults L-R – Warren Smyth, Anthony Clark, Cllr James Reeder with participants at the Suffolk Schools Badminton competition at Inspire Suffolk. (photo credit Simon Lee)]