FONTAINE Chapman cut a frustrated figure after a chest infection contributed to her first qualifying round exit from the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships .
The 26-year-old, from Binley, is the reigning national champion and while a title challenge at this event was unlikely due to the world’s best all descending on the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, the former Ernesford Grange School pupil had hoped to follow last year’s achievement of making the first round proper.
But a chest infection had hampered Chapman’s training in the build-up to what is one of the biggest badminton events in the world.
And it was clearly a factor as she lost 21-18, 21-12 to Hsiao Huan Chen of Chinese Taipei in a little over half an hour.
Chapman said: “I am really frustrated to go out. I have not been training much for the last two weeks because of a chest infection.
“I did not want to have it as an excuse because I wanted to push through it but it was tough; she was returning all my shots and my legs were starting to go because I could not get as much oxygen in as I normally can because my lungs were tight.
“It is tough when you aim to perform well at this tournament and when you go on the court it doesn’t go that way but I had to try to play each rally as it came.
“I qualified for the main draw last year, which was such a great experience, and I wanted to do the same this year because I have improved so much on last year so I am really disappointed.
“I had gained a lot of confidence from winning the nationals and playing well in the Europeans so it is frustrating when you put a lot of preparation in to the tournament only to get ill.
“I hate to use excuses but when you are ill there is not a lot you can do.”
The YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships is a special competition for Chapman, having attended for several years as a fan.
And England’s number one female player has swapped the mop for the autograph book in recent years; something which helped reduce the disappointment on Monday afternoon.
“To have your friends and family there and having people who you do not even know telling you that you played well and hard luck is really nice and it provides the silver lining that makes you feel a little bit better in defeat,” Chapman added.
“I have been coming to the All England since I was a junior and I used to mop the courts here when I was playing for Warwickshire and could get involved and watch.
“And then even as a player it is the tournament that you want to compete in and playing in the main draw last year was one of the highlights of my career because of the atmosphere and in the size of the arena – you cannot beat that experience and exposure.
“Playing in front of a home crowd is unbelievable. Once you experience it you want to do it all the time and I am looking forward to being good enough to be in the main draw.”
Watch the world’s best players at the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena from 8-13 March. For tickets visit allenglandbadminton.com