Power couple courting success

Badminton : Husband-wife duo of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock keen to make a big impact

Power couple courting success

Power couples aren't exactly a rarity in the sporting world, but they aren’t quite common plying their trade in the same team, leaving words like 'chemistry' and 'understanding' confined to their personal lives.

Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton, Jason and Laura Kenny, have been a part of the same sport but participating as a couple has eluded them.

Indeed, it is rare to see a husband-wife duo participating in the same event, and it is this uniqueness that sets Chris and Gabrielle Adcock apart, as they chase excellence in mixed doubles badminton.

But does this familiarity breed contempt?

The enthusiastic and lively English duo, in India for the Premier Badminton League, dismiss it right away saying, “It works really well for us. It is really nice since we get to travel the world together.

“There are others that travel with us and end up missing their families or spouses but we're together and it's nice to sometimes just go out as husband and wife for a nice dinner.”

Chris (27) and Gabrielle (Gaby, 26) live in Milton Keynes, near London, and train at the National Badminton Centre, just about a 15-minute walk from their lodging. But for their rigorous training regime, they could be mistaken for your regular next-door couple as they walk their Maltese, Bowser.

“Our usual day starts with walking the dog and then heading to the centre for three to four hours of training. We then head back home and after a brief siesta, we train for another few hours before we retire after a quiet dinner,” explains Chris.

“If we aren't training, we just like to relax at home, watch television and spend time with our dog,” adds Gaby, quickly pointing out that they have a good work-life balance.

England's top-ranked doubles pair may have known each other and played together since their junior days but there was a brief hiatus when they were paired with different partners in an attempt to boost their gameplay.
Chris went on to play with Scotland's Imogen Bankier, while Gaby partnered Englishmen Robert Blair first and then Marcus Ellis.
The separation was brief and it was probably written in the stars that Chris and Gaby would reunite as the pair came together in the beginning of 2013 and haven't looked back ever since.
“We were young and the coaches felt it would be best for us to play with more experienced players. It was probably good that we played with others because when we did eventually get back we were stronger and a more well-rounded pair,” said Chris.
Chris and Gaby won the 2014 Commonwealth gold and the 2015 Superseries final in Dubai but while they still are making rapid strides on the mixed doubles circuit, their Rio Olympics experience turned out to be a bitter one. Even though they beat the formidable Danish pairing of Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen, the two failed to enter quarterfinals.
“It was the small things that let us down,” said Chris. “We did play at a really good level but it was tough luck to miss out. Things could have been different with one point either way.”
The level of competition is pretty high in the sport but Chris and Gaby felt the pair to beat at the moment would be the top-ranked Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen of China.
“Every pair is tough to beat, and right now it's the Chinese pair that are in exceptional form. But they definitely are beatable,” affirmed Gabby as Chris nodded in approval.
Chris is born in Leicester and Gaby in Leeds — cities that love their football — but the game doesn’t cause any disagreements between the two.  “I'm not really a football fan,” Gaby said with a chuckle.
“I moved to Nottinghamshire when I was one. I actually support Chelsea now,” said Chris of his football allegiance.
Ending 2015 on a high and having to live with the disappointment of Rio in 2016, the Adcocks refuse to lie low and are hoping to raise the bar in 2017.
“There's obviously the All England Championships, the World Championships and the European Championships that we are looking to do well at,” stated the Chennai Smashers’ star couple, targeting the future with hope.

Arjun Ganesh

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