London 2012 Olympics makes big impression on young badminton star Jess Hopton

Gazette Series: Jess Hopton with the Olympic torch Jess Hopton with the Olympic torch

WINTERBOURNE International Academy pupil Jess Hopton admits she is already putting more effort into training after being inspired by the Olympics.

Everything about London 2012 has made a big impression on the England youth international badminton player, who carried the Olympic torch through Bristol in May and watched some of the action live at the Wembley Arena last month.

Hopton was a guest of Egyptian number one Hadia Hosny, her training pal at Bath University, and watching the best in the world at close quarters was enough to spur on the 15-year-old even more to compete at the Games herself one day.

Hopton said: “To watch her play people who are at the top of the world, because I’m a similar standard, was great to see how good they really are.

“The atmosphere was amazing. It was good to witness all the athletes perform at the highest level and brilliant to see all the English people supporting the team.

“It’s been very inspirational. Afterwards I wanted to train and really wanted to be there.

“It’s the highlight of your career and where you want to be. It brought home how realistic it is and how anyone can achieve it.

“They all started where I am now so it shows anyone can do it if you put extra bit of energy into your training.

“Rio is a bit too close for me, but hopefully 2020 is a realistic target.”

For now, though, Hopton is focused on representing her country as she prepares to travel all over Europe and she started the new season by reaching the quarter-finals of a tournament in Germany two weeks ago.

The Downend-based teenager stepped up to under-17 level last year and her highlight was a silver in the doubles at the British Championships, but she is hoping to win more medals this season and earn selection for the Six Nations, which sees England go up against hosts Holland, Denmark, Sweden, France and Germany.

And she is hoping to see the benefits of some adjustments made to her training methods after meeting former world number one and London silver medallist Lee Chong Wei, who was with the Malaysian badminton team at their pre-Olympics camp in Bath.

“It was good to see the world champion and I got to speak to him,” Hopton said.

“He showed us more things we can do because they train very differently, which gives us another dimension to how we can improve.”

Hopton also helps coach 12 to 15-year-olds at Bath and is hoping to gain her level one coaching badge when she’s 16.

And although badminton came under the spotlight for the wrong reasons at London 2012 when eight players were disqualified from the women’s doubles competition after being accused of deliberately trying to lose their games, Hopton has witnessed how the Olympics has had a positive impact on those she trains.

“Everyone in badminton has become inspired and wants to play more and more,” said Hopton.

“There was some bad press after the match fixing, but everyone knows what it’s all about now, so the Olympics was a key moment for the sport.”

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