Olympics-Badminton-'Like a married couple’: how doubles teams build trust

Sports Tokyo 2020

By Richa Naidu

TOKYO (Reuters) - Trust is the name of the game for doubles teams playing to win and, for some, building a strong relationship takes more than just good communication.

Badminton’s most gripping matches this week have been a string of near-misses and upsets by doubles pairs from China, Indonesia, India and Britain and other countries, and the tension has been down to strong teamwork on both sides.

“It’s in little things, but it’s what affects a lot in our game,” Indonesia’s Greysia Polii told Reuters on Tuesday after she and partner Apriyani Rahayu beat Japan’s Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota 24-22, 13-21, 21-8 despite being ranked five spots below them.

“We do everything together - whether we go to the toilet together, or sleep, or go to the dining hall when we eat the same thing.”

“We have to remind each other to get into the same rhythm, the same mind, same spirit,” Polii said. “We’re like a married couple.”

One mixed doubles pair boasts being partners in more than one sense of the word. Britain’s Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith, who crushed their German rivals on Sunday, are in an off-court relationship and live together with their cocker spaniel Luna.

“It is really good because, you understand what each other is going through,” Ellis has said in the past.

India’s Chirag Shetty has been with men’s doubles partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy for six years. The number 10 ranked duo in the world just about beat Britain’s Ben Lane and Sean Vendy 21-17, 21-19 on Tuesday.

“Our first coach made us have at least one meal together in a day - if you get to build that bond and if you’re good friends it also reflects on court,” said Shetty.

“He’s definitely like a brother.”

(Reporting by Richa Naidu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Badminton - Women's Doubles - Group Stage - MFS - Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia in action as Greysia Polii of Indonesia looks on during the match against Yuki Fukushima of Japan and Sayaka Hirota of Japan. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Badminton - Women’s Doubles - Group Stage - MFS - Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia in action as Greysia Polii of Indonesia looks on during the match against Yuki Fukushima of Japan and Sayaka Hirota of Japan. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Badminton - Women's Doubles - Group Stage - MFS - Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia in action as Greysia Polii of Indonesia looks on during the match against Yuki Fukushima of Japan and Sayaka Hirota of Japan. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Badminton - Women’s Doubles - Group Stage - MFS - Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, Tokyo, Japan – July 27, 2021. Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia in action as Greysia Polii of Indonesia looks on during the match against Yuki Fukushima of Japan and Sayaka Hirota of Japan. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

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