Tattoos, toilet pranks & a dog called Bowser

IMG_9743Chris and Gabby Adcock are one of those couples that finish each other’s sentences.

Some might find it annoying, others cute. But when your significant other is also key to winning Olympic gold, being so perfectly in tune can be downright essential.

Having been together for ten years, the Adcocks are finally realising their potential, becoming the first Britons to win a World Superseries title, badminton’s equivalent of the ATP Tour finals.

The victory came in some style too, cruising to straight sets victories in the semis and final, having topped their group and toppled the World Number Two pairing in the process, adding to Commonwealth gold in Glasgow last year.

The pair are targeting a first British Olympic badminton medal since Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson in Athens 2004.

“You get addicted to that success,” says Gabby. “It’s such a high.”

Chris adds: “Having those titles will hopefully give us confidence for Rio. If we play our best, we can beat anybody.”

Though not the first couple to grace British badminton, they’re planning on being the most successful.

They met through the sport in their teens, married in 2013 and bring a hugely competitive edge to their relationship.

From court to the kitchen, they enjoy getting one up on others and each other and I’ve has been finding out what makes the Adcock’s tick…

The Adcocks on…Rio 2016

Although their names are not strictly on the plane for Brazil, the Adcocks form and ranking points all but assure them a place in the mixed doubles.

Being free from the burden and worries of qualification, coupled with their recent win in Dubai, they say could propel them to conquer the world on the biggest stage.

“Not having to worry about qualification and focus on winning is such an advantage,” says Chris.

“Of course we want a medal but I want to play well.

“I know if we play well we’ve got a chance. It’s a challenge but it’s something I know we can do.”

 

The Adcocks on…a bittersweet 2012 and that ‘feud’

It’s not all been plain sailing for the Adcocks.

Having grown up as a formidable mixed doubles pairing, Chris and Gabby were controversially split up prior to London 2012.

The rationale was placing each with a more experienced partner, a move they both agree was tough but ultimately right, would boost TeamGB’s chances come London.

AIMG_9748s Gabby was unsuccessfully paired with Rob Blair, Chris joined up with Imogen Bankier, leading to reports that he had ‘dumped’ his girlfriend and created a war between Gabby and Bankier.

“It was made a lot worse than reality,” says Gabby. “All that stuff that we didn’t get on was rubbish.

Chris says his role in the split was also over-dramatised.

“We were training together that morning and I got a text saying there’s going to be something in the paper.

“We opened it up and it said I was like a love rat. I couldn’t believe it.

“Behind closed doors we had a good laugh about it.

Bankier and Chris won world silver in 2011, but were knocked out early in London. Nonetheless, within the household, the bittersweet nature of the initial decision meant joy for Chris and despair for Gabby.
Could it affect their relationship?

“Honestly no! These are the experiences that make us stronger,” says Chris, 26.

Gabby continues: “When I was watching him at the Olympics I didn’t think of me not going, In that moment I was so proud.”

 

The Adcocks on…a┬áMaltese called Bowser

“I’m obsessed with him,” Gabby beams.

A quick scan of her Twitter feed confirms the statement. Cuddled together in photo after photo, a cute couple with love in their eyes.

Only it’s not Chris with Gabby but Bowser, their pet pooch.

Adcock DogYet with tournaments in far flung destinations like Kuala Lumpar, Jakata and Dubai, it means being away from home for large periods of time. Not an ideal situation when the other person to look after a pet is travelling with you.

“It’s the most illogical thing we’ve ever done,” says Chris. “We travel together so don’t miss each other. The biggest thing we miss is Bowser.”

“Chris’ dad was so against it,” Gabby adds.

Bowser stays with Gabby’s parents when the couple are abroad, but at home, he plays an important part in their wellbeing.

“He is worth every second,” says Chris with pride. “He’s such a release for us.

“When you get home from training, he greets us with a squeak and brings you straight back to normal life.”

Bowser is not content to play third wheel to badminton’s super couple though.

Gabby says: “He sleeps on our bed and has to be in the middle.

“I’d ask Chris to cuddle and Bowser jumps up and nuzzles his way in or lays on top. It’s so funny.”

 

The Adcocks on…their culinary rivalry

Their competitive streak does not stop on the court. When Gabby produced her best efforts for Chris’ birthday dinner in April, Chris knew the challenge was on for Gabby’s in September.

“He outdid me,” beamed Gabby. “He put these mushrooms and scallops in front of me. Mine was so bad. I did burnt pizza. It was a disaster.”

Chris added: “The dessert though was unbelievable. She did her own pastry.”

“You’ve haven’t requested it since,” Gabby pipes up. *cue married couple tiff*

Chris: “I have. The chocolate tart. I went through the whole thing.”

When Chris’ birthday swings round in April once more, Gabby knows the pressure is on.

“I’m going to have to smash it now,” she joked.

 

Gabby on…their surname

Gabby White will hold the enviable record of always having won her most recent tournament.

IMG_9747Just weeks after getting married in 2013, and with no time to change her passport, she and Chris triumphed in the Hong Kong Superseries.

She admits taking such a surname took some persuading.

“It was really weird. I miss being Gabby White,” Gabby says.

“I still get embarrassed when I have to spell the name on the phone. I was like A-D-C-O, and they start to chuckle.

“When I knew the name really sucks was at the nationals, when people were taking photos and my plat covered up the ‘D.’ So I was ‘A-Cock’!

 

The Adcocks on…pranking their psychologist.

With the dynamic of two individuals needing to work together for an end goal, psychology is pivotal in ironing out underlying tensions.

For Gabby and Chris, those cracks might not actually be on the court, but stem from their personal relationship.

Their go-to guy is Simon Drane – sports psychologist turned marriage councillor.

“I always say we have couples therapy,” jokes Gabby. “He’s the nicest guy and we meet up regularly as a friend.”

So close is their relationship that upon sitting with Drane for the first time since reuniting as a pair at the end of 2012, the two decided to have some fun.

“I said Gabby and I were having a bit of an issue,” recalls Chris. “Simon was rubbing his hands that he’d have something to work with.

“I said that Gabby hates it when she’s in the shower and then I go on the toilet.

“His mouth just dropped and he must have wondered what he’d go himself into.

“We waited a few seconds whilst he stumbled for words and then burst out laughing.

 

The Adcocks on…tattoos

With matching wedding date tattoos, the two are not adverse to a little body modification.

More recently, Chris went a step further adding a half-sleeve on his left arm, complete with lion, roses and Commonwealth medal.

Adcock tatooAlthough perfectly artistic, Chris played his most recently tournament in a sleeveless top and had forgotten to inform two people in particular about his tattoo.

“He didn’t tell his parents,” Gabby jumps in.

“They watch the live streaming and I said to Chris they’re going to find out.”

Chris adds: “I got a text from mum saying ‘Christopher.’ That’s when I know I’m in trouble. ‘What is that on your arm. I hope you’re stopping there.’

Chris, like many of his fellow Olympians, has the Olympic rings adorning his body.

After missing out on London 2012, Gabby now hopes to match her husband’s inkwork.

“They are very addictive,” she said. “Having missed the first one, it’s important to me. I won’t get the rings before Rio though.”

 

The Adcocks…on P.E

IMG_9741Being two of the best badminton players in the world, you’d imagine Chris and Gabby were handy at physical education at school.

Whilst Gabby takes great pride in her A* at GCSE, she takes even greater pleasure from beating Chris, who, despite being one of the best players in the world, scored zero on his practical exam.
“I got 9 GCSEs,” Gabby boasts. “Ask Chris what he got in P.E.”

“I got a B,” he replies. “But I did break my leg when I was doing my GCSEs playing badminton.
“When the school came to give my practical, the school said we’ll give you a 10 as you’re European champion.

“The exam board wouldn’t accept it because they hadn’t seen me play.”

Gabby chirps up: “Still got a B.”