Gail Emms MBE is an icon of British sporting success, with a string of gold, silver and bronze medals achieved in a huge array of international competitions and Olympic Games. As a former world champion and having won a silver medal at the Athens Olympic Games with mixed badminton doubles partner Nathan Robertson, Gail Emms MBE has now retired and can look back on a career that saw her reach the very top of her sport, taking on new and exciting projects.
As one of Britain’s inspiring Olympians, Gail Emms MBE represents the very best of the nation’s sporting offering. She began playing badminton from the age of four and she has shaped her career around the sport representing her country for the first time in 1995.
Her appearances in both women’s and mixed doubles tournaments has seen her repeatedly decorated with medals and she consistently achieved results that saw her reach the top of the world rankings.
Inspired by her family’s love of sport, Gail was always destined for a glittering career. Now retired from professional competition, she has turned her attentions to sharing the hugely positive impact that sport can have on life and well-being, working as a Youth Sport Trust and Badminton Sport England Ambassador, inspiring young people to be more active and lead a healthy lifestyle.
On Wednesday 30th March 2016, Gail hosted a twitter Q&A as part of #womenswednesday in partnership with Project 500…here are some of the questions she received along with her answers…
Q: Do you think governing bodies should set aside money for future female coaches (TopSpin Monkeys)
A: Good question! I think they should be aware of lack of female coaches and ask reasons why there is a lack of them. It is not just about money! Good coaches are good whether male or female but if there are no female’s then they need to ask questions and then if they need to, invest the money.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman in sport & how have ur coaches helped you overcome it? (Deborah Beard)
A: Biggest challenge is sexist attitudes to girls playing sport. My Coaches have helped me overcome these by allowing me to be me and no-one else.
Q: How did you cope with losing? What methods can I share with my players that worked for you? (Louisa Arnold)
A: Stropped it out like a drama queen! Everyone has own way to cope. Allow that person to cope their style, then take the positives. Have a few “to work on” points and then move on.
Q: If you were coaching Gail Emms at the Olympics, what would your key messages be? (Peter Beard)
A: Be yourself! Don’t try and be anyone else. Relish every moment and opportunity, now move that butt!!
Q: Why do think it hard for women to be taken seriously? (Joanne Hiscock)
A: Sport is ultimately a man’s world. Characteristics of sport and athletes are very masculine associated e.g. ambition, competitiveness, focus, determination etc so when girls come along and take this on, hard to accept?
Q: Where is your Olympic medal right now & can you describe your podium moment in 3 words? (FCN)
A: Medal is in a purse somewhere in the house! Podium thought – “want gold next”!
Q: How did your coach help you deal with the pressure? (Peter Beard)
A: I think he has a lot more grey hairs now…! He helped me see that sport is just that… sport, not life or death.
Q: We produce some amazing juniors, but few progress to top flight adult scene – how can coaches improve their chances? (Stephanie)
A: The key stage of development is 13 yrs up… identify the drive and motivation of why that girl is playing the sport and plan around that. There needs to be an emotion attached to it for girls or they will lose interest.
Q: Coach or Player? (FCN)
A: Is that what I want to be now??! easier to be player!! ha ha! !
Q: What are the top values you try promote as a coach? (Rachael Brient)
A: Be athlete focused as much as possible. Get to know the athlete, their personality and their drive!
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you have come across as a coach? How did you overcome it? (Rachael Brient)
A: Work for them. Remember coaching is about athlete and not you, ask the athlete what do they want. Biggest challenge for me is to coach and not to “clone” what I have been coached. Just because it worked for me, doesn’t mean it will work for them.
Q: Who was your first coach & was it in Badminton or another sport? (Project 500)
A: Badminton coach – Margaret Smith at Bedford & County badminton club was my first coach. Lots of incredible people have given me advice and inspired me to keep playing in all sports
Q: What’s the best bit of advice a coach has given you? (Shay Fenlon)
A: Perfection is not possible. accept it and then enjoy being human!
Q: Are you one for an inspirational quote, if so any good ones that have stuck with you? (Project 500)
A: “I don’t train because I like training… I train because I like winning!”
Q: How influential do you think coaches are,& can be, from an elite athlete perspective? (Project 500)
A: Coaches that can morph and instinctively know what that elite athlete needs are the ones that are worth weight in gold. Knowing when to push, when to challenge, when to mentor, when to back off… these skills will make or break the athlete.
Q: Does their role change the higher up the rankings you go & if so is that facilitated by the you the athlete,them or jointly? (Project 500)
A: Title of “coach” will be the same, but knowing the athlete’s needs at that time is crucial. Not facilitated by athlete as they are in their own selfish athlete bubble and rightly so as they need to focus on achieving. It’s all down to the coach.
Q: How do you pick athletes up after a loss? (Rachael Brient)
A: Remember the positives, funny moments,and say lets use this to beat them next time.
Q: Are you working at Rio at all Gail or getting to watch it on Tv? Bring back memories? (Project 500)
A: I’m not going to Rio.. maybe working in England but hard as yes brings back lots of amazing memories. The realisation sinks in that I am old and not able to be an Olympic athlete anymore…!!
Hats off to all sports coaches – male and female. Selfless task and not often appreciated until job done!