Alex Dunn and Eleanor O’Donnell’s brilliant performance in reaching the mixed doubles final at the European Junior Championships 2017 ended in disappointment when they fell to Russian second seeds Rodion Alimov and Alina Davletova 21-16 21-14 in just 24 minutes.
But the unseeded 18-year-olds can be well pleased with their silver medal after their run to the final included a 17-21 21-10 21-14 victory over the Slovenian fourth seeds Miha Ivancic and Petra Polanc in the second round and a nail-biting 19-21 21-14 22-20 win against the Polish top seeds Pawel Smilowski and Magdalena Swiercynska in the semi-finals.
Dunn has now added a silver medal to the bronze he won with Adam Hall in the men’s doubles in Lubin two years ago while O’Donnell will get a big boost from her performances in Mulhouse over the last week as she looks ahead to the senior European Championships in the Danish city of Kolding at the end of April and her Scotland international debut at the Sudirman Cup in Australia’s Gold Coast next month.
In the final this morning they came up against a strong Russian pair and kept in contention up to 10-10 in the first game before the Russians applied the pressure to surge ahead 17-11.
A strong start to the second game, where they swept into a 9-1 lead, put Alimov and Davletova in control and although Dunn and O’Donnell recovered from 15-6 down to within four points at 15-11 the Russians remained strong and closed out the contest.
Despite missing out on gold the pair were understandably delighted with their achievement. Alex said: "I am extremely happy and proud of how we played this week. It's been a fantastic tournament and I will take a lot from the experience we have had."
Eleanor added: "I'm very proud of our performances. It's a lovely way to end our junior careers."
Coach Robert Blair said: "It’s obviously a disappointing result, but should not be damper on what has been a wonderful week for Alex and Eleanor.
"They have performed very well and risen to all the challenges that faced them. Today they needed to be very disciplined as the Russians were powerful and good on the net. This meant a change of tactics from the previous games and at times they fell into the trap of playing the game where the Russians were strong.
"This should be a good experience for them and hopefully get them ready for similar success in senior badminton."
BADMINTONscotland Chief Executive Anne Smillie said: “I am sure Alex and Eleanor will be disappointed that they aren’t bringing home gold but they should be very proud of their achievements over the last few days.
“They have produced some great wins to get to the final and they thoroughly deserve their silver medal.”