BADMINTON England has defended its player performance programme after doubles player Jenny Wallwork walked out in an angry protest at the plan for her career.
Wallwork complained she had “no voice” and cited a lack of confidence in the “insecure, untrusting and incapable leadership” of BE in a strongly-worded statement posted on her Twitter account. The 26-year-old is the second player to pull out of the programme in the space of four months after Imogen Bankier, who now competes back in her native Scotland.
Wallwork did not make clear whether she intended to play on independently or not but, given that she plays doubles, options will be limited and the decision could effectively amount to her retirement. Senior figures at BE, who also administer the Great Britain Olympic programme, have been taken aback by the development but have expressed confidence in their set-up.
Wallwork wrote: “No voice, no choice!
“It is with regret that at the age of 26 and entering the prime of my career I feel the necessity to submit my resignation from the GB Badminton Programme. As the most successful female player, with 42 caps and (as) the highest world-ranked player over the last four years, I feel I have no voice or direction in the way my career is going and find myself in an impossible situation other than to remove myself from the World Class Performance Programme.
“It is an athlete’s career and not the performance director’s and an athlete should have a say in its direction. I know my dreams and aspirations were achievable, as my results and achievements so far will testify, but in my attempt to move forward in my development my views have been discounted. ‘Continue with the programme given to you or submit your resignation,’ was an ultimatum recently given to me.
“I feel this indicates insecure, untrusting and incapable leadership and I am not prepared to be dictated to and therefore feel I am unable to continue with a programme in which I have no confidence. An unhappy player in the training environment has little or no chance of success. This sounds somewhat similar to Imogen’s situation several months ago.
“I am clearly not the first to resign and under the current regime and I suspect will not be the last.”
Wallwork, in partnership with Nathan Robertson, was one of Britain’s top hopes during the pre-London 2012 Olympic cycle. But the emergence of Bankier and Chris Adcock in the mixed doubles discipline saw the pair edged out of a qualifying position. Following Robertson’s retirement last summer, BE announced Wallwork would be teaming up with a new partner in Andy Ellis.
Wallwork was also split from her regular women’s doubles partner, Gabby White, and later made her unhappiness known.
A statement from BE read: “Badminton England and GB Badminton is extremely disappointed to learn of Jenny Wallwork’s decision to step down from the GB World Class Performance Programme. Jenny’s decision has taken us by surprise and we are disappointed with the manner in which she has chosen to communicate it. We had discussed Jenny’s programme and how it should look in considerable depth with her in the last couple of months and thought we were moving forward positively.
“Indeed, we felt we had received strong signals to this end. We have ongoing dialogue with all players regarding their individual programmes. However, devising the GB programme is a huge and complex undertaking, encompassing many players.
“We believe we have made good progress in the last 12-18 months, and we are already seeing the impact this is having on performance levels.
“The result in Russia at last week’s European Championships is another indicator of this and we are looking forward with great optimism to the Commonwealth Games and Rio 2016.”
Wallwork had returned to top-level action after a spell out injured to compete in Russia. Coach Jakob Hoi said: “We are ready to wish Jenny all the best for whatever career path she chooses. We want everyone to be happy but at the same time we would tell her our door is open.”