Sam Magee: "There are a lot of pairs out there wanting to beat us"

As the Magee siblings claim another title in their mixed doubles career, brother Sam explains how far they've come

Sam Magee, Chloe Magee

Image: Simon Cooper/PA Wire/PA Images

The Spanish International holds happy memories for the Magee siblings.

Not Joshua, mind you, but for Sam and Chloe. The Donegal natives came into the tournament back in 2010 as underdogs, young athletes embracing the "raw" element of their game.

Their inexperience saw them play without fear and capture their first international mixed doubles title.

"Back then it was much more of a shock that we won it, because we were only starting out," Sam tells Newstalk.com.

Fast forward seven years and the story reads differently. With three appearances at the Olympic Games under her belt, Chloe has become one of the most experienced badminton players in the country.

A disappointing end to her singles career saw her switch her focus to her mixed double efforts, which has already paid dividends.

Alongside Sam, the pair claimed bronze at the European Championships in April, Ireland's first ever medal at the showpiece.

A five-week stint of training saw them refocus their attention on last week's competition in Madrid and Sam says their medal success in Denmark has accelerated their progress.

"After Europeans we sat back and asked ourselves what was different in our game this year to identify what we were doing so well.

"Since the Olympics, Chloe has focused on mixed doubles and for the first couple of months we were just finding each other out."

With the help of new coach John Quinn, the Magee siblings say they've added a lot to their game.

"We were trying to implement new techniques into our game, which took a little bit of time. We couldn’t to begin with, but little tweaks in our training is starting to come through."

Sam and Chloe Magee in action during round one of the Mixed Doubles during day two of the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships at the Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham. Image: Simon Cooper/PA Wire/PA Images

After a series of tricky opponents - including former European Junior champions Rodion Alimov and Alina Davletova and fellow European bronze medallists Ronan Labar and Audrey Fontaine - they claimed victory. 

"We know we’ve gotten to a higher level and we want to keep showing that. [The Spanish International] was always going to be a tough tournament but going into it - without saying it to each other - we definitely had big expectations for each other.

"Back in 2010 we were a little bit more raw and inexperienced. Now we expect more from ourselves. There are a lot of pairs out there wanting to beat us."

The focus now turns to North America, with both the Canada and US Open events in just under a month's time.

Decisions

Sam continues to compete in the doubles discipline with Josh, but admits he will soon have to make a decision about where his future lies in the sport.

"Once you get to that level at the top of the world, athletes start focusing on mainly one discipline. It’s too hard on the body otherwise.

"That’s a decision I’ll have to make before we go toward Tokyo - whether I’ll go full mixed or if I try go for the mixed doubles as well."

Small injuries, he says, build up and can stifle the progress vital to keep them at the top of their game.

"You have to be careful. Your body gives you these warning signs if you’re working too much or if you’re putting too much energy into something else.

"As a player you want to play as much as possible, but you also have to make these professional decisions.

"It’s just all the small injuries, but when you’re out injured you’re not training. You’re not getting better and you end up that bit further away from the next step."

He added: "The main focus now is on the mixed. The doubles is another outlet, but the mixed is going so well that we’re set on that."