Julie MacPherson

Q&A for 2022 Commonwealth Games

2022 Commonwealth Squad – Julie MacPherson

Name: Julie MacPherson

DOB: 17/11/1997

Hometown: Edinburgh

Honours: European team championship bronze (Lievin 2020), Iceland International women’s doubles, Welsh international women’s doubles, eight-time national champion.

How and when did you first start playing badminton?

My mum used to play both badminton and tennis. And I’ve got a sister who is two years older, so she started from just copying my mum and I followed on playing both from there really. We started off playing tennis at first, I think just with sponge balls as we thought it was going to be easier. We played both at the same time and it wasn’t until I was 11 where I focused purely on badminton. I was just a better badminton player than a tennis player at that time, so I just enjoyed it more. My sister did the same thing, so we were playing together and were in the same junior squads and the same set-up.

How did you first make the move to the national squad as a junior?

I was from Edinburgh originally. So, there were a lot of clubs in the city and regional squads. I went to under-11 nationals, and I think if you won that you were already scouted. So that is how I first broke through. But at that age I was training just once a week. School during the week made it harder to travel, but at the weekend those of us from the east squad would meet up with players from the west.

The highlight of your career so far?

It has to be going to the Commonwealth Games in 2018. To play over in the Gold Coast for Scotland, that was a big highlight for me. It was so good to be playing in my first Commonwealth Games. I suppose the difference with other highlights in my career so far was that when I stepped out on court it immediately felt huge. To be in the athlete’s village as well was an amazing experience, surrounded by loads from other sports that you watch on TV, and I was quite young at the time so I was just in awe really. The multi-sport events have a different feel, and it has definitely pushed me to work harder to get to Birmingham.

How was training over the first few months of 2021?

It is a long time to go without an international tournament. From the World Championships in December, we went three months without one and you do just want to get out on court. But equally then we went four weeks in-a-row with tournaments. That is a lot of time on the road which poses its own challenges, but it is what we train for.

You added yet another two National titles to your CV earlier this year, how did you find that?

We played the Nationals at the start of February, which was strange as it wasn’t that long after playing the same tournament last year, which obviously was delayed due to covid lockdowns. It was only five months or so later, which was really strange, it came around very quickly. It felt really great getting another two titles.

Last year my normal mixed doubles partner, Adam Hall, was injured. So I played with Matthew Grimley. We managed to win that which was great, but it was nice to be back playing with Adam again, we’ve got a great record in the tournament and it’s always nice to play at home. If picked I’d love us to have a crack at the Commonwealth mixed titles. Our partnership really started when we played together in the team event at the Gold Coast in 2018. We played a great match and have played together since after then. So, we’re hoping to get our ranking as high as possible and make that a real target.

What are your goals for the next five years?

In the short-term, medalling in the Commonwealth Games, and if it were to be a gold obviously that would be great! I’d like to try and qualify for the Olympics in Paris 2024 as well. That’s at the back of our minds already, we know it won’t be long at all before the Games come around again with the shorter cycle this time. If we can get some good results and our ranking is high enough, there is no reason why that can’t be a target. I’d like to get further at the All England as well, as it is such a high-profile event. We’ve also got the European Championships shortly in Madrid, where we really want to put in a good performance. Then later this year after Birmingham we’ve got the World Championships, so it is quite a busy year really. It’s actually hard to think about the next few years as we’ve got so much going on in 2022.

What do you like to do away from Badminton?

I do study, I’m working towards a maths degree with the Open University, so that takes up quite a bit of my time outside of badminton. I’m in the fourth year of that, which is a real challenge but I enjoy the subject and like how it gives me something completely different to focus on. It helps me switch-off outside of playing tournaments.

I also like going back to Edinburgh at my weekends. Obviously, we’re training in Glasgow during the week, which is very intense, and I like to go back home as much as possible. Seeing my family and friends really helps me get my mind away from just constant badminton. With so many tournaments that has been really important. I do love badminton, but everyone needs to switch off when they can.