x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Brave decision to put Olympic chances before your girlfriend

I have no idea if Adcock will win a medal for his badminton this summer, but surely he deserves one for valour. Just imagine that conversation.

Chris Adcock hits a shot with his former playing partner Gabby White. Despite White also being his girlfriend, Adcock will be playing with Imogen Bankier at the London Olympics.
Chris Adcock hits a shot with his former playing partner Gabby White. Despite White also being his girlfriend, Adcock will be playing with Imogen Bankier at the London Olympics.

Chris Adock bravely chose to play badminton doubles at London 2012 with another player rather than his girlfriend

The great thing about the looming Olympic Games is that we hear stories about minor sports to which we would normally pay no heed. Sports like badminton, for example.

We learnt this week that Chris Adcock, a British badminton player, was so keen to secure a place at the London Olympics that he dumped his mixed doubles partner, Gabby White, for a better player in Imogen Bankier.

Nothing unusual about that, you might think, until you learn that White was also Adcock's long-term girlfriend.

I have no idea if Adcock will win a medal for his badminton this summer, but surely he deserves one for valour. Just imagine that conversation.

Scene: A young couple sit in a busy restaurant. (A public place is always best for such matters.)

Listen, Gabby, I've been thinking.

Good for you. Now, are you going to order chips because ...

Thinking about us.

Aw, you're so sweet. Anyway, if you order chips I'll just have a few of yours.

We need some space.

Because I don't want to fill up on ... hang on, what did you just say?

We need some space. You know, space from each other.

You're dumping me?

No! Well, yes, but not as a girlfriend! Just as a doubles partner.

I can't believe I'm hearing this. Who is she?

What?

Don't play innocent. Who have you been partnering on the side?

No, love, it's not like that. I was having these feelings long before anyone else came on the ...

WHO IS SHE?!

This is not about anyone else. I just feel that our partnership has run its course ...

It's that Imogen, isn't it?

Imogen? I don't know who ...

Imogen Bankier! That's who I'm talking about. Imogen Bankier and her precious finger power. Don't think I didn't notice you drooling all over her flick serve that weekend in Loughborough.

Oh, that Imogen. Well, yes, now you mention it, I have played a couple of matches with Imogen.

Yes, I'll bet you have. Bet you couldn't wait to get her onto the court, could you?

No, it wasn't like that. She was short of a partner, you were away on your holiday ...

For the last time, Chris, it wasn't a holiday! It was a training camp. I thought I could trust you to train alone for seven nights, but obviously that was asking too much.

Look, it really wasn't like that.

Oh right, so what was it like then? Please, tell me.

Gabby, let's not do this.

No, come on Chris, I want to know! Was it her backhand? Was her backhand better than mine?

Well, not better, just different.

Oh, so you've thought about it then! Well, I'm sorry that my backhand is so disappointing to you. Now, tell me, what else is Immy better at than me? Slicing? Positional play? Deception?

Well, as it happens, she is quite good at deception.

NOT AS GOOD AS YOU, CHRIS! Well, fine. Go to the Olympics. Just don't expect me to watch like a dutiful girlfriend. While you two play badminton at Wembley Arena, I'll be watching beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade. IS THAT ENOUGH "SPACE" FOR YOU?!

 

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I am intrigued is to learn that Pep Guardiola, the manager of Barcelona, is reportedly considering taking a year off.

The gilded coach has yet to commit to staying at the Nou Camp beyond this summer and has repeatedly spoken of his fear of burnout due to the intensity of his work.

So keen is he to avoid this fate that, some say, he is flirting with the idea of taking a year-long break to do something completely different.

This is positive news for two reasons. Firstly, it indicates a man who understands that life exists beyond the bubble of professional sport.

Secondly, with Roman Abramovich reportedly keen to hire the Spaniard as the next Chelsea coach, it would be enormously satisfying to see his whim frustrated by Guardiola taking a glorified "Gap Year".

Just imagine his irritation every time he saw Guardiola's Facebook page updated with the usual Gap Year adventures: Pep swimming with dolphins (so cool!), Pep getting a tattoo of a Chinese symbol which means "peace" (don't tell mom!), Pep just chillin' with some Dutch guys he met on the Khaosan Road in Bangkok, Pep having his hair braided in Koh Samui. OK, that last one is unlikely.

But a Gap Year is not all fun, fun, fun. One can imagine Guardiola being moved by the plight of the children he meets in the Third World: "These people are so dignified yet so primitive. I cannot believe that, in the 21st century, thanks to the legacy of British colonialism, millions of children are still forced to play Route One football. Have they never heard of Tiki-Taka."

Or perhaps he could revolutionise one of those well-digging projects: "Why have guys specialising in each procedure - digging, carting, winching - when they can learn to do them all? Total well digging is the future!"

Go on, Guardiola. Save the world AND annoy Chelsea - it sounds like the perfect sabbatical.

sports@thenational.ae