Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour heads for Kolding in Denmark today (Mon) as she prepares to take on the continent’s other top players at the 2017 European Championships.
This time last year the Commonwealth Games runner-up added another silver to her medal collection as she finished second to Spain’s Olympic and double world champion Carolina Marin.
Gilmour, 23, will be one of the players trying to deny Marin a third successive European title but she is in a contrasting situation to last April when she performed so well in the French town of La Roche-sur-Yon.
She said: “I'm going into the Europeans with a bit of a different feeling from last year. Instead of being second seed I'm now seventh. But physically I feel like I'm in a really good place and I'm ready for a new challenge this year.”
Gilmour has a first-round bye, which means she has to wait to learn her opponent with Alesia Zaitseva of Belarus or Martina Repiska of Slovakia fighting it out to meet her in the opening batch of matches on Wednesday morning.
But Gilmour has been boosted by her title triumph at the Orleans International earlier this month as she was more like her old self following a lengthy post-Olympic lay-off after knee surgery.
“My preparations have been going really well,” she said. “I've had a good three-week training block since my last tournament in Orleans.
“It was nice to come off the back of that win and have something to focus on again straight away.
“I've definitely taken some confidence from that tournament as I was able to incorporate a lot of the things that I have been working on with (head coach) Tat Meng.
“Right now we're figuring out what is the best way to work together and I think we are making some good progress.
“As for this week, I'll be taking the competition one game at a time but, of course, I have my sights set on a quarter-final against Denmark’s Line Kjaersfeldt. Every round will require me to perform well and I won't be taking anything for granted.”
Kjaersfeldt defeated Gilmour in the final of the Scottish Open Grand Prix 2015 at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena so the Bellshill star has a score to settle.
Scotland’s mixed doubles pair of Martin Campbell and Julie MacPherson take pride of place with the opening match of the Championships tomorrow afternoon (Tues) when they face Belarus pair Uladzimir Varantsou and Krestina Silich.
Kieran Merrilees will then face a tough opener against Mark Caljouw, the Dutchman who defeated the five-times Yonex Scottish National champion in last November’s Scottish Open Grand Prix third round, with the Scottish No.1 losing 25-23 18-21 21-16.
Matthew Carder, the 2015 National champion, also has a tricky start against France’s higher ranked Lucas Claerbout.
MacPherson and Eleanor O’Donnell, the National women’s doubles champions, must wait until Wednesday evening to begin their challenge but they have the worst possible draw in facing Danish top seeds and Olympic silver medallists Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen. Juhl is a four-times European women’s doubles champion, the last three times with Pedersen.
Things are just as tough for National men’s doubles champions Campbell and Patrick MacHugh, who face Danish second seeds and defending champions Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding.
The Championships runs from Tuesday until Sunday.
BADMINTONscotland is the governing body for the sport in Scotland and host organiser of the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 to be staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena from 21-27 August. It is Glasgow’s third World Championships following the 1997 World Championships and Sudirman Cup and the 2007 Sudirman Cup.
As part of the World Championships Legacy Programme BADMINTONscotland is committed to introducing 30,000 schoolchildren and members of youth groups to the sport as well as training umpires, line judges and coaches as part of their extensive badminton development programme.
For further information about badminton in Scotland go to www.badmintonscotland.org.uk or visit www.glasgow2017.com for more information about the TOTAL BWF World Championships.
Get ready for this years Scottish Open grand prix
This August, the fastest racquet sport takes over the Emirates Arena for 7 days.