Three years after a funding cut that left its elite future in doubt, British badminton celebrated its most successful continental Championships in 35 years at the European Games in Minsk.
Marcus Ellis earned his second gold medal of the Games as he teamed up with Lauren Smith to emphatically dispatch the long-dominant Adcocks, Chris and Gabby, 21-14 21-9 in the mixed doubles final.
A silver medal in the women’s singles for Kirsty Gilmour, who fell 21-16 21-17 to Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt, took the Great Britain team’s medal haul to five – a total not beaten since the event in Preston in 1984.
As well as re-affirming badminton’s domestic potential, the event underscored the emergence of Ellis in particular, having also triumphed in the men’s event alongside Chris Langridge.
And it threw into sharp focus the race to qualify for Tokyo 2020, with the previously all-conquering Adcocks now facing a real battle to cling on to the one allotted mixed doubles place for Japan.
Ellis, who was also selected as Great Britain flagbearer for the closing ceremony, said: “Obviously this helps us a lot but I wasn’t thinking about Tokyo when I was going on court.
“This is an important tournament but there are 20 or 25 other important tournaments. It’s amazing to have won but as far as qualifying goes, we have to put this medal in our back pockets and move on.”
Ellis and Langridge had been among the most affected by UK Sport’s decision to cut full funding in the wake of the Rio Olympics, despite the pair having secured an unexpected bronze medal at the Games.
The ease with which Ellis and Smith claimed victory over the former double European champions and two-time world medallists came as a surprise to some, but Chris Adcock played down the significance of the defeat.
“It’s not a kick up the backside,” he said. “Marcus and Lauren have really stepped up recently and that is good for Team GB. It’s just another game we need to learn from and then move forward.”
“The whole team has done fantastically well. After funding was withdrawn everyone took a real hit but the amount of medals we’ve won since then has been outstanding, and shows we are a good squad who are coming of age.”