Raphoe woman Chloe Magee has competed at more Olympic Games – three – than any other Donegal sportsperson, but now has opened up about the struggles she endured in 2016.
In the run-up to the 2016 Games in Rio, Magee faced immense pressures – of competition, a fear of not making it to Brazil, as well as the financial burdens that she had to contend with as her hopes dangled by a thread.
In Lima, the capital city of Peru, last April she lost out to Turkey’s Ozfe Bayrak 21-18, 15-21, 21-8, and she considered quitting the sport as she prepared for the 12-hour flight home.
A few weeks later, though, she overcame more than just beating Chloe Birch and Telma Santos at the European Championships, when, finally, with just a week of qualifying left, she sealed a place on the plane to Rio.
“People just expected me to qualify – and that was a big pressure,” she said on this week’s Donegal Sports Talk podcast for our sister sites Donegal Daily and Donegal Sport Hub.
“I always thought how I’d answer: ‘What happened that you didn’t make it?’ I’m so happy that I made it.
“With London and Beijing I didn’t appreciate it as much. I qualified so well for them. This one was just relief. It was relief, joy, excitement at just getting the goal and I hadn’t let down a lot of people who have invested in my career.”
Magee has stepped away from the women’s singles now, having competed at the Olympics in Beijing, London and Rio.
Tokyo remains a possibility, but at mixed doubles, in which she plays alongside her brother, Sam. Last winter, she shelved a Rio-qualification bid in the mixed doubles.
She said: Last year was just so tough. I tried to qualify in both. It got very tough. We were struggling in the mixed. We needed some huge results and, because of that, the singles started to struggle.
“The whole year got tough and stressful. After Rio, I just changed it up.
“I had enough of badminton with the whole everything.
“I put so much focus on trying to get to these Olympics and I very nearly didn’t get there. Something had to give. Maybe I didn’t get enough out of my singles, but I believe we can get to another level in our mixed. I’m putting the full priority on that now.”