Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms are determined to prove they are back among the world's elite by retaining their Yonex All England Open Championships title in Birmingham this month.
Robertson and Emms enjoyed a brilliant mixed doubles success at the National Indoor Arena to become the first English pair in six years to win an All England crown but then their hopes of being gold medallists in the World Championships were shattered when Robertson suffered an ankle injury.
But the pair, the Olympic silver medallists in Athens, are in buoyant mood as they look to the All England event, which lasts from January 18-22.
"We are looking forward to defending our title," said Robertson. "It's going to be a big year for us in 2006 and winning the China Open and reaching the Hong Kong final in November has shown we are getting back to peak form.
"After what happened to me at the World Championships, we want to show our fans what we can do in Birmingham."
Robertson, from Nottinghamshire, and Emms, from Hertfordshire, claimed the invitational Copenhagen Masters last week and are seeded three in this week's Swiss Open. They won the title in Basel last year.
Robertson and Emms, the world No 3 pair, head a top-quality entry for the All England Championships. Players from 38 countries, including newcomers Turkey, will be involved. World and Olympic men's singles champion Taufik Hidayat, however, will not be making the trip to Birmingham. The Indonesian is recovering from a knee injury while he is also planning for his wedding in February.
England No 1 and world No 8 Tracey Hallam, the Chinese Taipei winner from Burton-on-Trent, leads the home challenge in the singles events. Aamir Ghaffar (Middlesex) is the main English hope in the men's singles, while Emms and Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire) will be challenging the Chinese domination in the women's doubles.
The tournament, regarded as the Wimbledon of the badminton world, has been brought forward from its usual March date due to the Commonwealth Games.
Meanwhile, Hallam, Julia Mann and Jill Pittard are in action this week in the Wilson Swiss Open.
Hallam is seeded eighth for the event in Basel, and begins her challenge against Scot-land's Yuan Wemyss in the first round today. Second seed Xu Huaiwen, from Germany, is her likely opponent in the quarter-finals.
Eight-times national champion Mann, from Solihull, aims to wipe away the disappointment of an injury-hit 2005 with valuable rankings points in Basel. Her first round opponent will be a qualifier.
Pittard, from Coventry, also faces a qualifier in her first match, with seventh seed Wong Mew Choo likely to provide a stern test in round two.
Warwickshire's Chris Tonks looks to follow his successes in the recent Elite tournaments with success on the international scene. He partners Surrey's Chris Langridge - the pair won the Surrey Elite event in October - and they face Belgians Frederic Mawet and Wouter Claes tonight.