Longtown Olympian Lauren Smith is off to a flyer at the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships, but not without a stumble along the way.

The 27-year-old star, who represented Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is through to the second round of the mixed doubles in Birmingham alongside partner Marcus Ellis.

Smith and Ellis are seeded seventh at the world’s oldest badminton tournament and came from behind to beat Chinese duo Jiting He and Yue Du 12-21 21-19 21-19 in dramatic style.

With the home crowd roaring them on, the English pairing were well-beaten in the first game but rallied at 8-4 down in the second, then stunning their opponents further in the decider with He and Du looking likely victors at 16-11 in the decider.

“It was a real battle and we definitely didn’t start in the manner we wanted to,” said Carlisle-born Smith. “We were a little bit flat - maybe preparation or a mental thing.

“But the thing about the All England is you’ve got the crowd behind you so when you have those moments and it gets close you’ve got that extra lift and that extra energy.

“That showed at the end when we were down, we should’ve been out and they were feeling confident and comfortable.

“But we did what we like to be known for, to be really annoying to beat! We didn’t let them put the shuttle on the floor and it paid off and it feels really great now.”

Smith and Ellis have been playing regularly together for 12 months now and also reached the round of 16 at last year’s All Englands before losing out to Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto.

The mixed doubles pairing will now face Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat and Lai Shevon Jemie in the round of 16 today, but Smith did taste defeat in the women’s doubles as she and Chloe Birch lost out to fourth seeds Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu.

Smith continued: “When me and Marcus started playing together, it was a bit like ‘well you play doubles and you play doubles’ and we were probably going to go to Commonwealths so why not play mixed together?

“So, it was a bit like let’s see what happens but, over time, we’ve grown as a pair and shown strengths.

“We’ve got strengths in areas other mixed pairs haven’t. You’ll see me at the back of the court a lot and across the net.

“Now we’re getting to a stage where we’re working on the finer details and we’re really trying to improve our game.”

*The 2019 YONEX All England – Badminton’s Greatest Show on the sport’s world tour – will wow fans at Arena Birmingham, 6-10 March. For tickets and information, go to www.allenglandbadminton.com or search All England tickets.