Tell us about how you first started playing badminton?
It was a bit of a family affair for me. My dad was national junior under-15 coach for a while. My uncle (David) Gilmour was an international in his own right. He is now the one of the singles coaches in the national squad and so obviously that has come full circle. He also used to coach me when I was younger. My mum also needs a mention as she herself got a Scottish schools title in mixed doubles!
So, it went across both sides of the family. But it was never forced upon me, I was just a sporty kid, whether it was gymnastics, karate, football. I had to choose badminton over football when I was 12 really and even since I’ve played a bit of tennis and golf in my time.
You won your first senior caps at 16 – but how did you first make the move to the national squad as a junior?
Glasgow School of Sport was a huge part of the transition for me. I’d never really considered anything else. I always planned to do my high school education there whilst playing badminton and playing in the junior national squad. It just lined up nicely that in my spare time away from lessons I could start training with the senior national squad, which I did when I was 15. It was crazy that within a couple of years I was at the Delhi Commonwealth Games – hats off to whoever made that decision!
The highlight of your career so far?
The silver from Glasgow 2014 has to be up there. But my bronze from Gold Coast (2018) felt better – even if the silver looks better. I look at it as winning the silver in the semi-final. But when you win the bronze, you end on a real high and so I have my best memories from that one. In Gold Coast I was stressed with wanting to prove Glasgow wasn’t a fluke, so it meant a lot.
How much do you enjoy competing at these events where you’re part of Team Scotland or Great Britain at the Olympics?
Competing for Team GB is nice and special in its own right. But I do just love competing for Team Scotland. It’s more personable and at this point I’ve known some of the athletes, organisers and people around the team for 12 years. I’ve almost grown up with them. We have a real community feel around the team and it’s a super nice feeling to have everyone together when we compete at the Commonwealth Games.
How has the first half of year gone so far ahead of Birmingham 2022 and the World Championships?
It has gone very well. I don’t want to get complacent about anything, but training has been going really well this year. If the rankings weren’t frozen, I’d like to think I’d be close to the top 12 in the world. That is a nice place to be, and I feel really confident about my training and all the little things I’m working on seem to be coming off. Me and Ingo (Kindervater) have done a pretty good job in the last year.
What do you like to do away from badminton, how do you switch-off when off the court?
I am very much into my golf these days and often play with my dad. It can be tough playing when you get all four seasons in one evening – as we did the other night. But that’s the perils of living in Scotland. I’m also a bit of a film geek so love a trip to the cinema. I’ve got a niece and nephew who I like hanging out with as well.
What will the rest of the season look like for you? And what are your aims?
It’s similar to Gold Coast where the next week after we were in Spain for European Championships. This time after the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham we need to be in Japan for the World Championships within six days. It’s tough to look forward to that already while I’m focused on Birmingham. You plan so much for a major Games it is easy to forget there is a day after. After the Japan Open (which follows the World Championships) I bet you I’ll be taking a holiday!
What are your long-term goals for the next five years?
I’m going to try and milk this career for as long as I possibly can. But I’ve always said I want to win medals at all the majors. I’ve got Commonwealth and Europeans, but would love to add a World medal which isn’t a million miles away. You obviously get fewer chances for Olympic medals, but I’m still hoping to get to at least Paris.