Gail Emms

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Gail Emms
Personal information
Birth nameGail Elizabeth Emms
Country England
Born (1977-07-23) 23 July 1977 (age 42)
Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England
Height1.63 m (5 ft 4 in)
  • Andy Wood
  • Julian Robertson
Mixed & women's doubles
Highest ranking1 (in XD)
BWF profile

Gail Elizabeth Emms MBE (born 23 July 1977) is a retired English badminton player who has achieved international success in doubles tournaments. A badminton player since the age of four, Emms was first chosen to represent England in 1995 and regularly played for her country until her retirement from professional sport in 2008.

Her best results were winning gold at the 2006 World Championships in Madrid, 2004 European Championships in Geneva, and a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games, partnering Nathan Robertson in the mixed doubles. At the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester she won a bronze medal with Joanne Goode in the women's doubles and won gold as part of the England team in the mixed team event. She also took the World Badminton Grand Prix title in 2003 with Nathan Robertson. In the English National Badminton Championships she won the mixed doubles three times and the women's doubles twice.

Early life and career[edit]

Emms attended the Dame Alice Harpur School in Bedford, a private girls' school. In 1998 she graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Sports Science from Kingston University.[1] After graduating Emms became a full-time professional badminton player with the help of national lottery funded grants paid to her by UK Sport.[2] Her father owned a building firm that collapsed in the recession of the late 1980s leading to a sudden decline in the family standard of living. Her mother, Janice Emms (née Barton), played for the unofficial England women's national football team. Her parents divorced while Emms was in her early teens.[3]

2004 Summer Olympics Athens[edit]

Emms competed in badminton at the 2004 Summer Olympics in women's doubles with partner Donna Kellogg. They defeated Koon Wai Chee and Li Wing Mui of Hong Kong in the first round but were defeated by Zhao Tingting and Wei Yili of China in the second round.

She also competed in mixed doubles with Robertson. They had a bye in the first round and defeated Björn Siegemund and Nicol Pitro of Germany in the second. In the quarterfinals, Emms and Robertson beat Chen Qiqiu and Zhao Tingting of China 15–8, 17–15 to advance to the semifinals. There, they beat Jonas Rasmussen and Rikke Olsen of Denmark 15–6, 15–12. In the final, they lost to the Chinese pair Zhang Jun and Gao Ling 15–1, 12–15, 15–12 to finish with the silver medal.

2006 Commonwealth Games[edit]

The 2006 Commonwealth Games brought Emms a Silver in the team event, a Bronze in the women's doubles (with Donna Kellogg) and a Gold in the mixed doubles (with Nathan Robertson). An additional gold together with Robertson followed at the 2006 IBF World Championships.

2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing[edit]

Emms participated in the women's doubles with partner Donna Kellogg only to be knocked out in the first round by the Chinese pair Wei Yili and Zhang Yawen.

Emms then went on to win her first match in the mixed doubles with Nathan Robertson against the Chinese world number 2 pair. Emms and Robertson won the first game 21–16 before Gao Ling and her new partner Zheng Bo hit back to win the second 21–16.

The British duo found themselves 12–17 down in the decider only to recover to win 21–19.

Emms and Robertson lost out on a medal at the quarter final stage against the world number 10 pair Lee Yong-dae and Lee Hyo-jung. The Korean pair then went on to win the gold medal.

Emms retired after the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.[4]

Later career[edit]

After 2008 Emms started a portfolio career and has engaged in badminton coaching, motivational speaking, media activities, TV commentary and product endorsements. The latter includes work for SKODA cars and Adidas. Emms has worked as a TV presenter and commentator for the BBC, Sky and BT Sport.[5] She has delivered talks on performance, teamwork and gender issues at events held by many prominent clients including the Ashridge Business School, Sainsbury's and the Thames Valley Police.

In 2013 she was appointed to the Badminton England coaching staff with a remit to develop young female prospects and mixed doubles pairs.[6] But loss of financial support for badminton from UK Sport in 2017 resulted in cutbacks to the coaching programmes which impacted on Emms' position.[7] She has subsequently been critical of UK Sport's strategy in allocating funds, suggesting that its emphasis on elite level players and Olympic medal results is inappropriate.

Emms has appeared on the sports-based panel show A Question of Sport and is a regular guest on Fighting Talk. On 6 March 2014, she appeared on Sport Relief's Top Dog with her dog Raffa, a Westie. They won their heat, and went on to win the semi-final against Jenni Falconer on 20 March and the final, where they competed against Sally Gunnell.

Personal life[edit]

Emms was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours.[8]

She gave birth to her first child, Harry, in March 2010 and to her second child, Oliver, in May 2013. In 2015 she was living in Milton Keynes with her partner. After retiring as a badminton player in 2008 Emms has periodically suffered from depression. [9][10] She has spoken about the difficulty many professional athletes have in adjusting to life after retiring from their sport while still young.[11]

Emms is a passionate supporter of Tottenham Hotspur.[12] She participated in the 2017 Great North Run half marathon in order to raise money for SportsAid, finishing in a time of 1 hour and 48 minutes.[13]


Olympic Games[edit]

Mixed doubles

Year Venue Partner Opponent Score Result
2004 Goudi Olympic Hall, Athens, Greece United Kingdom Nathan Robertson China Zhang Jun
China Gao Ling
1–15, 15–12, 12–15 Silver Silver

World Championships[edit]

Mixed doubles

Year Venue Partner Opponent Score Result
2006 Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid, Spain England Nathan Robertson England Anthony Clark
England Donna Kellogg
21–15, 21–12 Gold Gold

World University Championships[edit]

Women's doubles

Year Venue Partner Opponent Score Result
1996 Strasbourg, France England Tracey Hallam Chinese Taipei Tsai Hui Min
Chinese Taipei Chen Li-chin
12–15, 17–15, 11–15 Bronze Bronze

Record against selected opponents[edit]

Mixed Doubles results with former partner Nathan Robertson against Super Series finalists, Worlds Semi-finalists, and Olympic quarterfinalists.[14]


  1. ^ Kingston University alumni profiles
  2. ^ Daily Telegraph, 5 February 2017 a hobby sport
  3. ^ Women's Sport Trust Gail Emms
  4. ^ "Emms to quit after Beijing Games". BBC Sport. 6 June 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  5. ^ D&D promotional website
  6. ^ Daily Telegraph 22 October 2013, 'Sport in Brief'
  7. ^ Daily Telegraph, 5 February 2017 a hobby sport
  8. ^ "No. 59090". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2009. p. 16.
  9. ^ Daily Mirror 21 March 2015 Olympic hero Gail Emms on depression
  10. ^ The Mixed Zone 2 August 2017 I'm ashamed to admin I'm struggling
  11. ^ The Guardian, 10 October 2017 I lost my identity in badminton
  12. ^ Gail Emms (20 November 2010). "Passions Gail Emms Tottenham Hotspur". The Times. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  13. ^ The Great Run Company website
  14. ^ Tournament results

External links[edit]