The Olympic Games offers some sports their moment in the spotlight every four years and a chance for athletes to become household names.

One of those names is Gail Emms who won silver in the badminton mixed doubles at the Athens Games in 2004, alongside partner Nathan Robertson. The medal was only Great Britain’s second ever in the sport, and remains the highest award Team GB have been awarded at the games alongside two bronzes.

Speaking to UCFB, Emms said getting ready for an Olympic Games, a four year cycle, is one of huge stress – with jobs on the line if athletes in sports such as badminton don’t succeed.

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She said: “When you’re preparing for an Olympic Games it’s like preparing for the biggest exam of your life. It’s four years of pressure and of stress. All of my back teeth are all ground down because of it!”

Emms goes on: “But it wasn’t just my own stress – it was the expectations of my family, my coach, the national governing body. I’d have people come up to me and say: ‘Make sure you win otherwise all the funding will be cut.’ And you’re like ‘Great, thanks! So if I don’t win that person will get sacked and that person won’t have a job?’”

There is a flip side though, as Emms states: “It’s also the best days of your life; you’re with a fantastic team of people who get you, who know you, a coach that understands the training plan and how to get that spark going.”

Emms admits she doesn’t miss her “horrendous” training regime – three times a day, six days a week – but does miss being part of something special.

She said: “To go and represent your country in an Olympic Games, wearing that Great Britain tracksuit… I’m one 6,500 people to have represented Great Britain and one of 650 to have won a medal, so I can’t complain.”