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MK Badminton Men’s Duo Selected For Tokyo Olympics Whilst Companions Dispute Decision

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

Sean Vendy and Ben Lane have been selected to represent Team Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics but the decision has been hugely controversial.

Photo: Getty Images of Ben Lane (Left) Sean Vendy (Right)

The Mens Doubles Pairing have have been climbing the world rankings but still sit behind reigning Olympic bronze medallists Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge. The world of Badminton, especially here in Great Britain, have attacked Badminton England for their selection with claims of 'age discrimination' being made by players and fans.

With Sean Vendy growing up in Milton Keynes and the pair training for most of their careers here in Milton Keynes, we wanted to find out why the young pair have been picked over the current Olympic Bronze Medalists.

The decision as to who is selected to go to the Olympics is made by GB Badminton and they base their selections on specific criteria. You can see the 5 main points of criteria below. It is important to note that the criteria states that ranking alone is not the only factor when it comes to making selection choices and none of the criteria is weighted.

Marcus Ellis & Chris Langridge launched an appeal against the selection and it has been branded as an 'age discriminative' move throughout the badminton world but as it stands, the appeals have not been successful and the sports arbitration dismissed the case that the bronze medalists appealed, meaning Vendy & Lane are still making their way to Tokyo.

In September 2019, Vendy & Lane beat Ellis & Langridge in straight sets at Kharkiv international tournament and then in January 2021, the young duo were the first ever mens pair to reach the semi finals of world tour finals, where Vendy & Lane saw off Ellis & Langridge once again, in straight sets.

Langridge and Ellis won an initial appeal but an independent panel decided that GB Badminton had followed the rules outlined in their selection policy and the line-up was ratified by the British Olympic Association (BOA) late last month.

We are no Badminton experts but having researched the above points on the official stats site for all things Badminton 'Tournament Software', we believe that the decision for the Olympic spot to be awarded to Vendy & Lane to be the right one.

You can find all relevant data by clicking here.

From our findings, Vendy & Lane win on points (ii), (iv) and (v) and Langridge and Ellis win on points (i) and (iii). As the selection criteria cannot be weighted, then Vendy & Lane are ahead on 3 out of 5 of the criteria which is why they've been selected for the team.

Marcus Ellis has been selected to play mixed doubles with his partner Lauren Smith but he still feels massively aggrieved to miss out on his mens double place within the team.

Marcus posted a statement to his instagram claiming he was informed of not being selected by email and claims that maybe the organisation who represent the players, maybe don't have their best interests at heart.

''On the 7th June, I received an email stating that the olympic selection had been carried out by GB badminton and that the team going was listed below. My heart sank into the floor. As the highest ranked player in Great Britain in both mens doubles and mixed doubles by a significant amount, I believed my attendance at the Tokyo olympic games in both disciplines was almost guaranteed. Unfortunately GB Badminton had other ideas. Myself and Chris Langridge were notified by email that we had been deselected and they were instead sending the second ranked british pair.

Marcus Ellis Statement on his Instagram

It is worth noting at this point I have nothing against any players at our national centre (including the lads who have been selected above us).

The following three weeks consisted of 2 appeals and verbal hearings. I was training maybe 25% of my normal volume as I was busy fighting against this decision with Chris and our lawyers. We knew before going into this that appeals are almost impossible to win but given the first appeal was successful and prompted the selection be done again, to me highlights wrongdoings from GB badminton throughout. This whole process has highlighted to me that governing bodies may have too much power and needs to be reviewed.

For this lost preparation in these three weeks, I feel alot of anger towards the association who are supposed to have my best interests at heart.

Chris, who in my opinion has done our sport proud in Britain, did not hear one word from GB badminton staff until two days ago when he received a text message.. How can an olympic Medalist, commonwealth champion and European games champion just be disposed of in this way?

I can't allow this to happen again and I'm determined to push for positive changes to create a better environment for myself and future players.

I will now do my best to focus on the Olympic games and tackle the bigger issues afterwards.

Thank you for all the kind messages in the last week it means so much to us.''

Photo: Getty Images of Team GB Badminton

It's clear to see that Ellis and Langridge have had a successful and illustrious career on the world stage in Badminton and clearly their passion for the sport is there to see. Maybe they thought their pairs world ranking alone would be enough to secure their spot, however if no pairs are ranked within the top 8 then it goes to the selection panel for a decision, which is where the criteria comes in.

A quote from the selection criteria reads, ''If no pairs are ranked 1-8 all players achieving qualifying places on the List will be considered collectively and one pair selected based on the following criteria in no particular order:''

Claims of 'age discrimination' and ‘bias’ have been made across social media in an attempt to help sway GB Badminton’s Decision but to no avail.

GB Badminton posted a statement in response to the social media uproar caused when the team was announced.

They said, ''While the announcement of athletes in many sports can divide opinion, the selection of the GB Olympic Badminton Team followed a robust process that was undertaken in accordance with the approved Tokyo 2020 Olympics Selection Policy. This process also included an independent Appeals Procedure where the outcome of the selection was ultimately determined through arbitration facilitated by Sport Resolutions. The comments made included reference to athlete welfare, something that we take extremely seriously; the wellbeing of our players remains of paramount importance to our organisation and to the success of the programme. GB Badminton has acknowledged the comments made and continues to seek to have a constructive and productive dialogue with the players at this time while putting additional measures in place to help manage the situation, including engaging the British Athlete Commission to provide independent support to the players.'' - Read the full statement here.

For Vendy and Lane who have been a pairing since 2010, this is a huge moment in their careers.

Sean has played badminton since he was 5 years old and even when a youngster, he was creating noise in the junior ranks. Whilst a student at Walton High School, Sean progressed on court becoming a multi crowned junior national champion.

Now the plane to Tokyo awaits with his childhood friend and mens doubles partner Ben Lane, to compete on the world stage, that will be watched by millions around the world.

We wish them both luck in Tokyo this year.

You can follow the Badminton Teams Journey on Facebook by clicking here.

You can read the Full Team GB Badminton Statement by clicking here.


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