Posted on 17th May 2023
By RJ Mitchell
KIRSTY GILMOUR has described The Scottish Open as the tournament “every Scottish badminton player wants to say they have won.”
The world’s third oldest badminton tournament will return to the Emirates Arena this October 5th to 8th and Gilmour, who is a two-time winner of the event, says the return of our premier badminton tournament will provide a hugely positive impact at almost every level of the game in Scotland.
Yet for the Scottish No.1, the return of a tournament she grew up with as a kid and cites as a massive inspiration for her top level career has evoked a replay of a hugely impressive highlights reel.
The 29-year-old was a regular at Kelvin Hall as a child before going on to realise her dreams of winning the title not once but twice with victories over Mia Blichfeldt six years ago and then by producing a stirring defence with a success over another redoubtable Dane Line Kjærsfeldt, meaning that for Bellshill born ace The Scottish Open will always occupy a preeminent place in her memories.
Thus Kirsty was in no mood to play down this exciting development and she said: “The bottom line is that every Scottish player wants to say they have won The Scottish Open! So it is a really special one and winning it is right up there for me.
“That said I think it’s very important that The Scottish Open has returned for many reasons. Firstly for our kids it gives them the chance to see top class badminton but also a chance to join in the bonanzas, camps, and classes we have around it.
“They were a huge part of my youth when I was growing up and I remember being over at the Kelvin Hall and the fun races and just joining in with the sport.
“But I also think it is important for the younger players at 15, 16 and 17 – years-old as they quite often get into the qualification of the event and that is vital to their development in getting a bit of a taste of top class tournaments and playing in front of a bigger crowd than at say the Nationals.
“Also it is important for the more senior members of the Scotland squad on their path of general development, The Scottish Open has always been so important on our route into international competition and it has been a massive part of my development in terms of competition over the years.
“Then also in terms of the spectators who get to watch top class international players and also our own friends and families to see us in the flesh.
“So all in all, I know it is financially tough to do, but the pros far outweigh the cons despite the cost and it’s a really positive development for all levels of badminton in Scotland.”
The Emirates Arena has proven a happy hunting ground for Kirsty, who not only won her two Scottish Open titles there, but also claimed a hugely impressive Commonwealth Games silver medal when she lost in the final to Canada’s Michelle Li in 2014.
With a quarter-final appearance achieved at the 2017 World Championships, which were also held at the Emirates, it is no surprise that Kirsty has had happy memories flooding back over the last few days and she shared: “I think I was seeded in the top two both times I won The Scottish Open. The first time I won it was with a win over Mia Blichfeldt in the final, who is one of my best friends on tour now, and it was just a really good solid week of badminton for me.
“I remember looking at the draw and thinking I could do this and it was fantastic to come all the way through and win it, just a really special moment in front of my own folk I will always remember.
“Second time around there were some very tough Chinese players in the draw and in my semi-final in particular I was a set down and 15-8 down against Cai Yanyan and somehow I managed to turn it round and then beat another Dane Line Kjærsfeldt in the final.
“When I looked back on that week I couldn’t believe I won it and what was extra satisfying was I would say that they were both very different experiences.
“Particularly in that second title win the home crowd played a vital role but they always do! I have played some of my best badminton at the Emirates Arena and probably of any player in the entire world I’ve probably played the most badminton there.
“Considering the Scottish Opens I have played at the Emirates, plus a World Championship and a Commonwealth Games there is almost a complete set there and the one thing about playing at the Emirates is that it’s always the home crowd which helps you through the tough times.
“It may be a cliché but it is very true.”