GAIL EMMS faced up to the prospect of life without badminton and the tears began to flow.

Not even the presence of Princess Anne in the stands of the BeijingUniversity of Technology gymnasium could inspire Emms and her partner Nathan Robertson as they bowed out of the Olympic mixed doubles to Korea’s Yongdae Lee and Hyojung Lee 21-19 21-12.

The British pair, who won silver in Athens and captured a brand new TV audience in the process, had beguiled Beijing and viewers back home with a spectacular comeback in their first round match against Chinese opposition.

But where they had been feisty and energised on Tuesday they were flat in their quarter-final, with no answer to the speed and astute serving of the Koreans.

All that remained for Emms, who had announced her retirement at the age of 31, was an emotional farewell and a host of glorious memories.

Emms said: “I didn’t want to go out like this.

“I wanted to go out on a high but we met an unbelievably great pair and they were on top of their game. We needed to play our best and they didn’t allow us. I’m going to miss the Olympics.”