Home comforts and the memories of her triumphant Commonwealth Games debut in 2018 are putting Chloe Birch in the mood for more medal success at Birmingham 2022.
The 26-year-old from Preston helped Team England win a mixed team bronze four years ago before also enjoying a strong run in the women’s singles competition.
That Games proved to be a launchpad to bigger and better things for Birch, who won silver in the women’s doubles alongside Lauren Smith at last year’s European Championships.
And she enjoyed a winning start to her second Commonwealth Games after joining forces with Jess Pugh in the women’s doubles as part of Team England’s mixed team campaign.
The English pair defeated Sabrina Scott and Tamisha Williams 21-6 21-9 as the hosts won all five rubbers against Barbados in a 5-0 whitewash to hit the ground running in Group B.
“We got off to a great start and I think everyone got used to the conditions out there and put on a good show which for the crowd turning up this morning was amazing,” said Birch, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
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“The atmosphere in camp is really good, players, coaches, staff, everyone is just buzzing and it’s just amazing. We actually know a lot of the staff that are volunteering here and helping.
“To see friendly faces around and if you need anything there are people to ask, it’s just really, really nice. I think that familiarity will be massive as we’re used to being on the road.
“We look forward to All England every year as it’s our big tournament on home soil so to have another competition of such a big calibre like the Commonwealth Games is amazing.
“Just the home comforts, if you’ve forgotten something at home then someone can bring it up to you. If you need family or friends to put an arm round you they’re buzzing around the stadium.
“I think if anything it could be easier than we’re perhaps used to. We’ve all got used to traveling on the road and being on the road and having our own coping mechanisms.
“We’re used to dealing without that support, that home comfort so I actually think this week, we have it all and we can tap into it when we need it, which I think is a really special thing.”
Birch later returned to the court for the evening session, pairing up with Smith to take the final rubber in a 5-0 win over Mauritius as Team England made it two from two in the mixed team event.
“The Gold Coast for me personally was probably where I first stepped foot into the senior ranks and did things people didn’t expect of me, back when I used to play singles,” Birch added.
“That really catapulted me to where I am now and what I’ve achieved since then. To be back at a home Commonwealth Games, where I started to make the breakthrough, is amazing.
“My family and friends travelled to Australia last time so it’s nice to have them again here now in the crowd. I don’t know what days they are actually coming because I’ve said I’m leaving them to it but the Commonwealth Games is always special for Team England.
“It’s special for me personally, having had that breakthrough in the Gold Coast, getting that team medal and performing so well in the individual, so to be here now and have a great chance in the team event and the individual is just really great.”
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