After she had enjoyed double European Games success, Cumbria’s Lauren Smith took a rare opportunity to return home.

And the 27-year-old certainly made the most of her time back in the county, celebrating her grandparents’ diamond wedding anniversary, before she started the “Leg it for the Royal British Legion” event in Carlisle on Sunday morning.

Having been born in the city, and raised in Longtown, Smith admits she was delighted to get the chance to connect with those who helped her in the early stages of her career.

She says: "I do always say thank you [to everyone who supports me] on social media, but it’s not the same as seeing them in person.

"I have seen quite a few people from the first club that I played at, Border Badminton Club, this weekend.

"I have seen family that I don’t normally get the chance to see, as well as [other] people who played badminton with me, people who drove me to tournaments, [and] people that just put up with the insane amount of energy I had as a child!

"Because of that and because of everything they have done, that’s why I’m here today. I certainly didn’t do it on my own.

"Especially my parents, they gave up years of their lives to sit on a motorway, driving me to places, and to then sit in a sports hall. So, I’m very grateful for everything they have done.

"It’s important to see them, say thank you and I hope they know I’m really genuinely very thankful for it."

Prior to the European Games in Minsk, Belarus, Smith had already enjoyed plenty of success this year, taking the Azerbaijan International title, making the Denmark Challenge final and winning her seventh straight national women’s doubles title alongside Chloe Birch.

They maintained their promising 2019 form at the European Games as they earned silver but it was with mixed doubles partner Marcus Ellis, in what is an on-court partnership and off-court relationship between the pair, that Smith won European gold. They beat England team-mates Chris and Gabby Adcock 21-14, 21-9 in the final.

"It’s been a good one so far. Marcus and I had a good year in the mixed doubles last year and, thankfully, that’s continued," Smith admits when asked about her form so far this year.

"It was one of those years where I wasn’t sure if I was going to top this. But we are only in July now and I feel like, with the European title, last year has been topped.

"Chloe and myself started playing together in September. To go into the Europeans not seeded and come out with a silver medal is a brilliant achievement.

"It’s also Olympic qualifying this year. That started in May. So, we have been very busy and, maybe, it’s been a little bit more stressful [this year] than others.

"But at the minute, I think it’s going as well as I could have asked. I just need to make sure I continue that momentum going forwards."

Ellis attended the “Leg it for the Royal British Legion”event alongside Smith and won the 5km race.

Five-time Commonwealth Games medallist Smith explains: "I have dragged him here because I wasn’t sure I could run, so I thought I’d send him out to represent!

"But, obviously, it’s great we can travel the world together and play together.

"It’s very intense in some ways but, because we both also play level doubles, it’s not so bad. We also live together, but we spend time training with our [other doubles] partners, as well.

"And we are quite good at leaving the badminton on the court.

"To share the successes together is extra special, you want to win for each other just as much as you want to win for yourselves.

"I think that’s why we are so good at fighting because we never want to give up and we never wanted to lose.

"We are both really competitive."

Her career has allowed her the opportunity to travel - from Rio to the Gold Coast in Australia to Lubin in Poland - as well as the chance to compete at the highest level.

But Smith admits her hectic schedule means chances to return to the UK are few and far between.

"It’s pretty rare for us to be around and in the country," she says.

"I think we spend about 50 per cent of our time on the road, but that’s just the way badminton is now.

"We have a really busy schedule of tournaments. I can’t complain too much, I have been to some incredible countries, [and] I’m going to Jakarta and Tokyo next.

"It’s something I might not have been able to do if I had not been playing.

"As much as I’d like to be in my own home and to have a dog, that’s just something I have to put on hold.

"It’s a sacrifice I make for what I want to do."