My Commonwealth Games Memories: Rajiv Ouseph

Rajiv Ouseph, who currently coaches some of the players who will represent Team England at Birmingham 2022, became something of a Commonwealth Games legend following his successes between 2010 and 2018.

The Hounslow shuttle won two silver and three bronze medals at the Delhi, Glasgow and Gold Coast games and was also crowned European Champion in 2017, with a career best of 10 in the world rankingsth in men’s singles.

Here the Londoner reflects on his experiences with the Commonwealth Games.

My first memory of the Commonwealth Games

“I was lucky enough to go to the one in Manchester in 2002 (as a 15 year old fan), I can’t believe twenty years have passed since then.

“I was able to watch a lot of players, some of whom are now training here. That was very, very exciting.

“It was the first time I saw badminton on such a large scale. It’s one of those events that really captured the public’s imagination. Hopefully it will be the same in Birmingham.

“It was a pivotal moment for me as a youngster playing badminton.

“In a way, I think it was one of the first times I realized that I could really achieve something in sport.

“Badminton is so often dominated by Asian countries so it was really inspiring to see England fight and fight for medals across the board.

“It was a catalyst for me. I saw that it was possible to win competitions, although I understood the hard work it took to get there.

“I had a little insight into some of the players competing back then, so I knew and had seen what training they were going through and how much effort it would take.”

On Delhi 2010

“It gave me great pride to represent England.

“I’ve felt it every time I’ve put on a Team England shirt. 2010 really set me up for the rest of my career as I was quite young and inexperienced when I started.

“I was also very fortunate that a member of the badminton team, Nathan Robertson, carried the flag at the opening ceremony, so we were at the front of the team and that was an amazing experience.

“But I wasn’t prepared at all for what it was going to be like going into those first games. As I entered the court, it was a moment where I pinched myself.

“My naivety might have helped me play better. It probably meant more to me in 2014 and 2018, which caused me a little more stress and pressure.

“Back then it was pre-social media – so I felt cut off from the world for 10 days and just wanted to enjoy my badminton, which I did.

“Some of the older players on the team, Nathan (Robertson) Anthony (Clark), have been very good to me.

“They told me what to expect and how to plan myself – even little things, like taking it easy when enjoying the catering!

“It’s a really important role for the seniors, guys like Marcus (Ellis) and Lauren (Smith) are going to do that this time because there’s quite a lot of young guys on our team.”

My favorite games medal

“I was a singles player so we don’t have a lot of time in our career where we’re part of a team. That’s pretty rare.

“Thinking back, it was very special to be part of a team that won a medal in the mixed team event.

“We won three medals in a row (from 2010 to 2018) and that’s what I’m most proud of.

“But I’ve been very fortunate to win a medal at every Commonwealth Games I’ve attended.

“The bronze medals that I won in 2018 have to be up there because I was in my career and how difficult it was for me to get those.

“Especially the silver medal in the team competition in Glasgow meant a lot to me because I was very committed to it and my now wife was on this team.

“Hopefully one day my son will ask about that win.”

About what the games will mean for the debutants

“Obviously it’s a huge event and it’s hard to grasp at first.

“In badminton we don’t get a lot of experience with multi-sport events, so you should always make the most of it.

“We also have home games. We are in a great venue at the NEC which also has a few other sports.

“You’re going to have a great experience and I’m sure all players, both those who have experienced a Commonwealth before and those who haven’t, will make the most of it.

READ MORE: PATEL-REDFEARN IN COMMONWEALTH DEBUT

“It’s a rare opportunity to showcase our sport on a larger scale and get it on free-to-air TV. Hopefully they can all enjoy this exposure.

“We want to produce for Team England and of course we have a reason but my advice to them is to just enjoy the experience and play for the wider team.

“They all know what it’s like to be part of Team England and hopefully they’ll immerse themselves in the experience because those moments don’t come around often.”

Leave a Comment