The mum of Bolster Moor badminton star Marcus Ellis has told how stressful she finds it watching him play.
Marcus and his partner on and off court, Lauren Smith, were competing in the mixed doubles in the Tokyo Olympics, losing in the quarter-finals in the early hours of Wednesday.
Marcus, 31, who won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, had been quietly confident after three straight wins including victory over highly-rated Thai pairing Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Dechapol Puavaranukroh.
However, Marcus and Lauren, 29, a love match in real life, crashed out to Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet of Hong Kong. A win would have put them in touching distance of a medal.
Defeat left the couple disappointed and Marcus’s mum Sheila and dad John were also gutted too back home in Huddersfield.
Sheila said: “They played so well in the match before but in the quarter-finals they just never got going.
“Marcus already has an Olympic bronze and I think he was more gutted for Lauren as it would have been her first medal.
“They are disappointed but they will go away on holiday now and come back stronger. As a couple they both share the same feelings and experience and they can help eachother through it.”
Sheila revealed that she and John find watching Marcus very stressful, so much so they couldn’t bear to watch the quarter-final.
“It’s quite stressful and I would much rather just wake up in the morning and find out how he got on,” said Sheila.
While the couple may not have set their alarm for the early hours to watch on TV, they were awake and followed the score on a phone in bed.
“It was always stressful when he was younger but now, as the years have gone by, it’s even more important – it’s his living,” said Sheila.
“It’s got harder for us to watch. No matter how old he is you still want the best. They say it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts but that’s not the case with the Olympics. Winning means everything.”
Marcus started playing badminton aged six at Colne Valley Leisure Centre in Slaithwaite where his dad played. He quickly developed a love for the sport and he clearly had a talent from a young age.
He’s grateful to his mum and dad for driving him to training and tournaments throughout his childhood years.
“There was a part of us that knew he had something special,” said Sheila. “That spurred us on to keep taking him but it was a struggle at times.
“We had to take him to Leeds or Sheffield in the evenings after school and we’ve had to get home from work, have some tea and, sometimes, we didn’t even have any tea! We’d make Marcus some sandwiches and he’d eat them in the back of the car. It was a whole night’s job – three or four hours.
“There was no quick fix but if you can, you have to give them a chance. It was expensive with petrol and overnight accommodation but we wouldn’t have had it any other way. He is doing what he always wanted to do and we would do it all again. We are very proud.”
No crowds are allowed at this year’s delayed Olympics but given Sheila hates watching her son would she have gone to Tokyo?
“My husband doesn’t like flying and we didn’t go to Rio but maybe if I had someone to go with I would have gone to Japan,” she said.
“It’s the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year and the next Olympics in Paris are just three years away so I think we’ll go to Birmingham and Paris,” said Sheila.
There’s been lots of interest in Marcus and Lauren’s relationship off court. The couple got together in 2018 and live in Milton Keynes with their American cocker spaniel Luna.
There’s no talk of marriage on the horizon but Sheila said: “I do think they are good together both on and off the court. As long as they are happy that’s all that matters.
“They will be hurting now but they have each other. They will get over it, go on holiday and then start on the journey to the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics beyond that.”