alt ENGLAND are assured a first-ever Sudirman Cup medal after today reaching the semi-finals at the World Team Championships in Glasgow.


Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms, Tracey Hallam, and Robert Blair and Anthony Clark gave England a winning lead before Emms returned to make it 4-1 in the women's doubles with Donna Kellogg.


They will face Indonesia on Saturday, while five-time champions China face three-time winners Korea.


It is the first time England have reached the semi-finals of the elite biennial team event in 10 attempts.


And that left team manager Ian Wright a happy man. "It's fantastic," he said.


"It shows we are able to compete right at the highest level.


"When the draw was made we were disappointed because we wanted to be in Denmark's group.


"But we know if we want to win medals at major tournaments we have to beat the Asians and we had three Asian teams in our group.


"The result is really positive for us. We need to look beyond Europe now and go for more world success.


"We got our preparations right for each match and we will try to do the same for the semi-final.


"Indonesia will start favourites but if we can get our players mentally right again and free from pressure maybe we can get a win.


"The spirit in the team is tremendous and that has helped. ]


"We knew today thay if we lost 3-2 today we would have been playing a relegation match tomorrow with Hong Kong rather than a semi-final on Saturday.


"The mixed and men's doubles were very nervous matches but the mixed was the key.


"That win took the pressure off Tracey."


Robertson and Emms got off to a shaky start by dropping the first game after he served into the net at 19-19 and then she put a shot out of the court to let the game slip.


But they got their act together to take the second and then took control.


As Emms said: "We just got the job done.


"It wasn't the best game of badminton but we went out there and won."


Andrew Smith had a game point against Boonsak Ponsana, who is ranked 11 places above him at number eight in the world.


But the Thailander took a close first game 23-21 then controlled the second.


But Commonwealth champion Hallam was too strong for Salkajit Ponsana and after she had put England ahead again it was left to world silver medallists Robert Blair and Anthony Clark to win a three-game clash with Tesana Panvisavas and Songphon Anugritayawon to get the England squad celebrating.


Robertson, wearing a giant hat and a big rubber hand, pointed a finger in the air in delight as he and Smith led the cheers with all the players and back-up staff getting behind the team.


There was even more to celebrate when Emms and  Kellogg, the European champions, clinched a convincing victory in the women's doubles and sparked more jubliation.