World Badminton Championships shows Britain does actually have talent
JUDGING by the myriad Beefeater mannequins and the mock No.10 Downing Street facade from which the players entered the arena, the recent World Badminton Championships were about showcasing the best of Britain in terms of tourism not talent.
SILVER LINING: Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier gave Badminton England reason to smile at the recent World Championships at Wembley Arena
Watching the competitors emerging from David Cameron's front door was somewhat surreal - especially if you let your mind wander to the image of the PM returning home early from his Tuscan holiday to reproach lawless London, only to startle some shuttlers in his living room - but Chinese TV stations no doubt appreciated the touch, as would event organisers who pointed their marketing strategies eastwards.
For badminton is big in China. Lin Dan, who arrived at Wembley Arena as the second seed but won his fourth world title (he's also the Olympic champion), is the bad boy who pulls in the big bucks and the Chinese on the whole are the dominant force.
At the last two World Championships combined they've won all ten gold medals on offer while at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, all 15 medals stayed in the Far East.
So what on earth did those brazen Brits think they were doing reaching the mixed doubles final?
Looking from a British perspective - and I can assure not a lot were at Wembley - things turned decidedly sour after the first two days.
Nathan Robertson, of 2004 Olympic silver medal winning fame along with Gail Emms, and new partner and girlfriend Jenny Wallwork were the only British seeds in the competition but crashed out on Tuesday and the British badminton outlook was bleak as a result.
Precious metal is the capital currency when it comes to elite sport in this country and so when Britain's landscape was barren at Beijing 2008 - after badminton's coffers were swelled after Athens 2004 - it didn't take UK Sport long to tighten the purse-strings.
The morning after his elimination Robertson tweeted his anger at the pre-competition preparations, perhaps a dig at national governing body Badminton England, or at UK Sport but all was not happy in the British camp.
Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy looked like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders after Terrible Tuesday but the relief he exuded after the Anglo-Scottish dream team Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier reached the quarter-finals was palpable.
‘A very good day at the office,' he proclaimed, arguing that the goals set out to the team had been reached.
Anyone with a passing interest in badminton - or anyone who is temporarily bewitched by it every four years - might wonder how he did so with a straight face.
After all, British badminton is synonymous with memories of Robertson and Emms and their on-court ‘chemistry' - an intriguing sub-plot to their 2004 Olympic odyssey was whether they were sharing more than just shuttlecocks - and of course, their success.
Two years after Olympic silver they won world gold, beating fellow Brits Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg in the final and so you may wonder, how can expectations fall so dramatically in five years.
But badminton's demise is demonstrative of how much medals matter to UK Sport and how difficult it is to arrest a downturn in minority sports in Great Britain - and Christy was preparing for another chastising in Bloomsbury if no Brits reached the last eight.
And so enter Adcock and Bankier who brought the roof down en route to the final - once those Londoners for whom Olympic fever is in full bloom eventually got wind of their success story.
For with beach volleyball beguiling at Horse Guards Parade at the time, the London 2012 badminton test event played second fiddle in the capital - or perhaps third if you consider the BlackBerry Messenger-fuelled trail of destruction.
But you got the feeling Adcock and Bankier would have been as enthused, as giddy and as downright delighted had the World Championships taken place in Mr Cameron's living room, not just outside his front door.
But Wembley was indeed the setting for their bewildering march to the final. England vs. the Netherlands was a no-no in north-west London but badminton does not bow to BBM-ers.
In truth, test-event wise, the competition passed off relatively successfully - a few stories of competitors forced to change in the toilets aside - and while the mixed zone for us journalists was marginally bigger than a phone box without the mod-cons of the Tardis, it will be far different when the five-ringed family waltz into town next year.
But the one thorny issue regarding hosting badminton at Wembley Arena is that of travel time (not Tardis induced time travel) to and from the Olympic Village in east London - and this was not tested which was an apparent missed opportunity.
Adcock and Bankier couldn't careless however. Already branded the new Robertson and Emms, the new faces of British badminton, they capitalised on home advantage, seized their chance and are now world silver medallists.
They didn't exactly knock the looters off the front pages but ears pricked at their success, Olympic hype wasn't quite cranked all the way up to 11 but it did creep up a notch and Christy immediately looked ten years younger.
One thing you can be fairly sure of though, they will have barely caused a ripple in China.