Posted on 21st August 2023
By RJ Mitchell
KIRSTY GILMOUR has shared that when it comes to this week’s Total Energies BWF World Championships in Copenhagen it will be a case of memories are made of this.
The Scottish No.1 opened her campaign with a gritty three set victory over old foe Lianne Tan from Belgium (22-20, 9-21, 21-12) this morning.
Kirsty will now face USA’s No.12 seeded Beiwen Zhang, while she is in the same quarter as World No.1 An Se Young – who could be a possible third round opponent.
This week in Copenhagen Kirsty is determined to add more warm memories to her World Championship collection which culminated with a never-to-be-forgotten run to the quarter-finals in Glasgow in 2017.
Not surprising then that the Bellshill born ace admits that the world champs occupy a special place in her affections: “They have been a big feature of my career for a lot of reasons and every one presents a new challenge,” said Kirsty.
Before adding: “My first world champs was in China and it was early on in my career and I was in at the deep end. I maybe approached that with a sense of naivety as I never approached them as if they were a huge occasion and just tried to treat it like another tournament.
“That said the world champs in Glasgow in 2017 (Kirsty was seeded 16) were probably the biggest for me, as I managed to make the quarter-finals where I played Saina Newhal from India who beat me in three sets (19-21, 21-18, 15-21).
“Basically I was six points away from a medal but I had some great wins on the way through to the quarters and in the third round I beat He Bin Jiao from China, who was seeded six, and that was a great win in front of packed home crowd at the Emirates and I won’t forget that one.
“So it was a good run and although it maybe could have gone on further it was still great making the quarters at a home world championships in Glasgow and an unbelievable atmosphere to play in.
“I have some great memories from these and I’ve had some other good performances from world championships – although to be honest I’ve had some pretty bad ones as well!
“But every World Championships presents a new opportunity and we have them every single year now whereas they used to be biannual, so it is nice to have that massive occasion every year and it normally brings the best out of me.”
With a short holiday and a solid training block behind her the 29-year-old admis she is in a good place as she bids to battle it out with the best at the Royal Arena in the Danish capital.
After negotiating a tough first round encounter with Belgium’s Tan, Kirsty said: “I’ve been playing against Lianne since I was about 15 and we know each other so well and texted each other when the draw came out and we just can’t seem to avoid each other!
“So we know each other pretty well and every time we step on court it seems to be three sets, so I needed to have my wits about me and it was no different this time. Lianne is tough and she is a runner and physically it wasn’t easy.
Ahead of her 3-set win against Lianne Tan, Kirsty told us: “Beiwen (Zhang) is waiting in the next round and I didn’t look any further than that as sometimes you look beyond your first round and it is okay and sometimes it doesn’t go so well so I try not to worry about the draw and stay present in this moment and just focus on the next match.
“It is important not to over think things and take it one match at a time but I played Beiwen and beat her in Indonesia Open. So I will be watching that video back to see her tendencies and patterns but a few seasons back I played in the same Danish club as Beiwen so I know her pretty well if we are to face each other.”
This year’s tournament has the added importance of providing the greatest portion of Olympic qualifying points to successful players but this is something Kirsty says is a secondary consideration: “I try not to think of these things as there is enough pressure with it being the world championships, so if happens it happens and then points you pick up will be a bonus,” admitted the Scot.
The European Games bronze medallist added: “So what counts is putting in good performances playing my best badminton, see where it takes me and If I do that happy days all round.”
When it comes to Denmark hosting this year’s championships Kirsty has no doubt about the benefits and she shared: “It is always nice to be in an environment that is familiar to you and you can get the food you want to eat and are relaxed with it.
“There isn’t much of a language barrier and as I mentioned I played club there so I am comfortable there and I like the atmosphere in Copenhagen and get settled in.
“There is also a great coffee scene in Copenhagen and I have my coffee shop map done and I’m looking forward to getting out there!”