The badminton squad set off to the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes on a much-anticipated visit led by Mr Cadman and Mr Colquhoun. Upon arrival, we were introduced to members of the women's badminton team who took us through an intense warm-up, so we were ready for the matchplay that followed shortly after. The warm-up involved various stretches and exercises, some of which were a novelty to us but were good so we knew how to prepare properly for future matches. For the matchplay, Mr Cadman arranged a doubles tournament between all the squad players, boys of different abilities and ages paired up to create an even competition that ultimately decided the Challoner's 'dream pair'.

After the excitement of the tournament had finished, we went to the centre's restaurant to enjoy a well-deserved Christmas dinner, with Christmas crackers included! This gave us an opportunity to discuss the games and reflect on how to improve each of our individual performances.

Once lunch had settled, we all gathered in the conference room for the very privileged experience of a question and answer session with four of England's top badminton players: Peter Mills, Adam Hall, Toby Penty and Rajiv Ousef. Lots of the boys asked very intelligent and thought-provoking questions, including inquiries about the players’ training scheme, tournaments, coping with losses and life outside badminton. It was also a great opportunity to ask Rajiv about his successful Olympic campaign, where he reached the quarter finals, making English badminton history. Being England's number one, Rajiv knows what it's like playing the best of the best, and how to cope with all sorts of playing styles.

Swiftly after the Q&A, we all went down to the courts to watch the pros in action against each other. It was really eye-opening to see the best players play the fastest racket sport there is, with unbelievable retrieval and reflexes. An interesting fact we learnt was that the fastest smashes can reach around 220 mph!

To finish the day, the centre's physiotherapist gave us a tour of the physical side of the sport, showing us the well-equipped gym and the physiotherapy room, and giving us an insight into the injuries and physical struggles many players face.

The day was a great experience for everyone involved, including the teachers! We all learnt different things which we can take away and reflect on or put into practice next time we get on court. Thank you to Mr Cadman and Mr Colquhoun for organising it.