Bury St Edmunds student Harry Wakefield eyeing bright future after winning two international medals in the Faroe Islands
Feltwell-based badminton player Harry Wakefield is hoping there is plenty more to come after he picked up a couple of medals at a recent international event.
The 17-year-old, who attends Abbeygate Sixth Form College in Bury St Edmunds, competed in both the Under-19s Doubles and Mixed Doubles at the Junior International Series tournament in the Faroe Islands over the weekend of July 2-3.
Playing alongside his regular partner Robin Harper, they saw off duos from the host nation and Scotland before beating the Irish combination of Matthew Cheung and Stuart McCollam 21-17, 21-13 in the final.
And fresh from having a gold medal in his pocket, Wakefield followed that up with a silver in the mixed doubles with his Danish partner Rosalina Langhoff.
“The weekend has given me some really good confidence,” said the teenager, who previously attended King Edward VI School in Bury.
“We went there with the intention of winning because you can never go into any game expecting to lose, but it was always going to be tough.
“The medals are right up there with what I’ve done before. The national titles are big, but winning in European events is a step up.”
Wakefield’s success in the Faroes is all the more impressive when factoring in that he has only been a part of the England Pathway for the last 12 months.
In contrast, many of his compatriots have been under the guidance of elite junior coaches for a number of years.
Growing up playing the sport alongside his dad, Wakefield has gone on to feature at clubs in Downham Market, Bury and Ipswich before finding a base in Milton Keynes, where he now trains three times a week.
He said: “A lot of my peers at the same age have a headstart on me because they’ve been in the England set-up since they were 10, 11 or 12.
“Without wanting to sound cocky, the fact that I’ve been able to win these medals after a just a year hopefully shows that there is plenty of potential.
“It gives me some good confidence and I’m really excited about the future.”
The more immediate ambitions for Wakefield, who made the decision last year to focus mainly on doubles, is to secure himself a spot at the upcoming European and World Junior Championships later this year.
As for the long term, the youngster is hopeful of forging a career out of the game.
“The Europeans and the Worlds are big goals right now and then after that we’ll see how it goes,” he added.
“If I could end up doing badminton on a full-time basis that would be a great opportunity.
“Everyone knows badminton is not the best sport financially and you have to factor that in, but I’d love to try it.
“Education is important as well and there are a lot of universities with good clubs that allow you to compete at the world level at the same time.”