Blair hopes to see the Scots shine at the Worlds

By Phil Jones, Sportsbeat

HAVING retired from the sport just last year, Robert Blair insists there are no regrets as he prepares to welcome the BWF World Championships to Glasgow.

The event comes to The Emirates Arena next month, bringing with it the best players in the world to play in front of thousands of Scottish badminton fans as well as those from all corners of the globe.

Blair, now 35, called time on his playing career to focus on coaching – taking up a role with Badminton Scotland – and is excited see what the global tournament has in store.

After winning a mixed doubles bronze medal for Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the same arena, and also winning the Scottish Open Grand Prix there in 2013 and 2014, Blair has fond memories of the venue.

“I’ve no regrets retiring when I did, the body tells you when it’s time to go – I knew it was coming up but that didn’t change my decision,” he said.

“We’ve been pretty lucky as Scots to have the Commonwealth Games, Scotland Open and now the World Championships, in Glasgow, in just the last four years.

“It’s great to see the tournament coming to Glasgow, the set up they have in the arena is really great, I loved playing there – especially in the Commonwealth Games.

“It should be a really amazing experience for those taking to the court.”

Blair won that Commonwealth bronze alongside Imogen Bankier, and with Kirsty Gilmour also stepping onto the Commonwealth podium in Glasgow he is proud of the impact Scottish badminton is having on the world stage.

Gilmour – a double European silver medallist in the women’s singles – will be flying the flag for Scotland in Glasgow, as part of a nine-strong home squad at the Emirates Arena.

And he hopes she can take her continental success onto the world stage.

“With myself, Susan and Imogen, Scotland has produced some decent players over the years and Kirsty is looking good, too,” he added.

“I think for the medals you are looking at the usual people. It’s looking maybe like it might be a last tournament for Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei, too, so to see those two fighting it out in one last final would be amazing, too.

“With me coaching the younger players I won’t be involved directly, but I’ll always be around should anyone need any help.”

The TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 will be staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena from 21-27 August.

It is being delivered by BADMINTONscotland in partnership with Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council and with funding support from EventScotland and The National Lottery through UK Sport.

Tickets available at www.glasgow2017.com/tickets