Bring on China, says badminton ace Holly at Australian Youth Olympic Festival

SUNDERLAND’S Holly Smith insists it’s time to bring on China after the badminton ace got her Australian Youth Olympic Festival off to a great start.

The 18-year-old was one of the first Team GB athletes in action on day one down under yesterday as she took to the court at the Sydney Olympic Park Sport Hall to take on Australia.

And, despite having the home crowd on their side, the hosts were no match for Birch and co in round one of the team event.

Former Sunderland Health and Rackets Club member Smith got Great Britain off to the perfect start as she won the mixed doubles in straight sets alongside Tom Wolfenden.

And although Smith lost the final women’s doubles event alongside Chloe Birch, the damage had been done and Great Britain eased into the semi-final with a 4-1 victory.

This means the team now take on favourites China today in the semi-final, but after getting her Australian adventure off with a bang, Smith insists the challenge holds no fear.

“4-1 is a good win against Australia, especially since they are the home team,” she said. “It is always good to get a win on the board first up and hopefully we can just build on this.

“There was a good performance by the team all-round but there is still plenty to build on now heading into the rest of the competition.

“We have China next up now and that will be tough as they are the best nation in the world for seniors and juniors.

“But it is a good chance to play them and to test ourselves against some of the best players. “We played them at the World Juniors this year and it was tough but hopefully we can get the result this time around.”

With Smith being one of the first 1,700 athletes to get the Australian Youth Olympic Festival underway on day one, she admitted to feeling the nerves.

But with her bow out of the way Smith is nothing but excited about what the future holds.

“The first game of mine is always a bit nervy and it was no different here so it was good to get those out of the way,” she added.

“A lot of us were a bit nervous to start with but we got through it and picked up a comfortable victory so hopefully there is more of the same to come.”

* Lloyds TSB Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, has supported 1,000 of Britain’s most talented developing athletes. As part of Lloyds TSB’s commitment to helping future sports stars prosper, the programme will continue in 2013. Follow future stars at facebook.com/lloydstsblocalheroes

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