World Badminton Championships: Glasgow organisers seek future stars

By Jane LewisBBC Scotland
Kirsty Gilmour
Kirsty Gilmour will be competing in front of a home crowd again at the World Championships

Glasgow is preparing to welcome the world's best badminton players to the city.

The Emirates Arena hosts the World Badminton Championships from 21-27 August.

And Badminton Scotland chief executive Anne Smillie is convinced the event will help develop the sport and unearth the next Scottish badminton stars.

"It's crucial to the development of sport that a governing body stages major events," she told BBC Scotland.

"It raises the profile of the sport, exposure on TV and in the media brings opportunities to see athleticism and to showcase the best stars in the world taking part in your sport. And that also gives people the opportunity to, not only play the sport, but also to come and watch and that's so important."

'Special occasion in Glasgow'

Badminton Scotland is making a conscious effort to ensure the event grabs the attention of youngsters. Over the week while the championships are running, badminton festivals will run alongside the event. In total, 7,000 children will attend the Big Hit festivals, and each will be given a free badminton racket.

Smillie reflected on how former Scotland internationals Susan Egelstaff and Imogen Bankier were inspired by similar events taking place in Scotland, going from spectators to world class players, winning Commonwealth and world medals. Bankier won a silver medal at the World Championships when she reached the mixed doubles final with England's Chris Adcock in London six years ago.

Glasgow hosted the World Championships in 1997 and World Team Championships in 2007. In hosting this year's World Championships, Glasgow have something in common with Copenhagen, Jakarta and Birmingham as the only cities to have hosted the individual World Championships on more than one occasion.

Robert Blair
Robert Blair reached the men's doubles final of the 2006 World Championships

And another former Scotland and Great Britain international reveals he too was motivated by Glasgow's last hosting of the World Championships.

Commonwealth bronze medallist Robert Blair has fond memories of that 1997 event and says it inspired him to become the player he did.

"Twenty years ago we had the World Championships and I remember being there almost everyday watching and thinking I'd like to be like that one and this one," he said.

Blair is now part of the coaching staff at Badminton Scotland and hopes those he's now helping on court will gain the same inspiration he did.

"Hopefully the young ones here will see what they can aspire to and it gives them the determination to really train and reach those heights," he said.

'Best shape I've ever been'

Kirsty Gilmour is already hitting such heights. The Commonwealth silver winner will be competing at the same venue as when she won her Glasgow 2014 medal.

And the 23-year-old says the partisan crowd are bound to aid her cause.

"It's such a special occasion being able to play and compete in Glasgow," she said. "Family and friends get to come and watch, which really doesn't happen very often, and after the Commonwealth Games I feel a little bit spoiled that I get another huge championships in my home city.

"The Glaswegian and Scottish support is amazingly relentless and I think that was a huge factor in what I was able to do in the Commonwealth Games and get that silver medal. I love any opportunity to play in front of people who are on my side as it doesn't happen too often."

Gilmour is seeded 16th for this year's event, receiving a first-round bye, and is in confident mood.

"Right now I feel I'm maybe in the best shape I've ever been in," she added.

"I've just come off the back of a good couple of tournaments in North America - the Canadian and then the US Open. So I had a really good couple of results there and my world ranking is slowly starting to creep back up to where I feel it should be and has been before."

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