Article by RJ Mitchell
Gilmour’s participation at the Hylo Open in Saarbrucken last week ended prematurely when a hip flexor injury forced her to retire in her second-round match with India’s Malvika Bansod at the HSBC BWF World Tour Super 300 tournament.
It was the latest injury frustration in a year which saw a back injury almost force Gilmour to scratch from the Commonwealth Games only for her to confound her frailty by making an impressive run to the semi -finals where she had a match-point against Canada’s Michelle Li before suffering an agonising three-game loss with a medal insight.
Yet despite also suffering from COVID-19 and an abdominal strain which caused further unwanted punctuations at key points of her calendar year, Gilmour’s appetite to wage destruction on the court remains as ravenous as ever.
Kirsty Gilmour has set a target of breaking the Badminton World Federation top-10 rankings in 2023.
The Scottish No.1 brought the curtain down on a year in which she has been assailed by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune on more than one occasion.
Speaking exclusively with Badminton Scotland, the World No.17 believes that 2023 can be the year that will finally help her realise a career long ranking ambition.
Kirsty said: “Breaking the top-10 is always on my mind and drives me in training every day. My career high is No.14, which is frustrating, so the top-10 is definitely the target and I think it is possible even if I am the most senior member of the Scottish squad by some way.
“That said I feel there is still plenty of life left in me if I can keep my body together, this has been a little tweak and I intend to squeeze a good few more years in and top-10 is definitely what I am going for.
“I had put in a really good training block over the previous two weeks leading into the Hylo and up until the second round I felt physically I was right back up there until the injury against Malvika (Bansod).
“So now it’s about healing up and getting right back to it, I think we are doing a Malaysia tour in January and that will be nice although it means we won’t be taking much time off in training.
“So I’d imagine I will be that guy training on Boxing Day! But between now and Christmas it is a training block and I am excited by that as I love training blocks.
“I feel my best when I am working my hardest, so we are going to put in absolute shift in through Christmas to really hit the ground running in January.
“I feel I have played some incredible badminton this year, even if I do say so myself, then just come up against these little adversaries like hurting my back, so if I can get into a settled place over Christmas I will look to do some real damage in 2023.”
Reflecting on last week’s second round retirement at the Hylo, the 29-year-old said: “I got off to such a good start in the first round and I felt I was close to playing at my best level and I went into the second round quite confident and with a good plan.
“Unfortunately early in the first set at around 5-5, I was moving into the net on the backhand side, and with the courts in Saarbrucken brand spanking new and quite sticky, my back (left) leg didn’t slide in as much as I thought it would and I just felt a twinge in my hip flexor.
“I did keep going and was hoping I would shake it off but it got a bit worse and stopped me putting full power into the left leg and it began to affect me quite a bit.
“I had a fair amount of adrenaline in my body and I could still feel it and that wasn’t a great sign. I wasn’t getting anywhere on the scoreboard and although you are always hopeful you can claw some points back from somewhere my movement made that a real struggle and it wasn’t working.
“It was really frustrating as I was up the whole way in the first game and it should have been mine but I didn’t have the confidence in my movements and had to make the call.”
Kirsty added: “So, the injury is a tiny pull or a wee strain of the hip flexor but nothing to worry about and a few days rest and some anti-flams and I should be fine.
“It has happened so few times in my career that I have withdrawn from a tournament. Obviously there was the Scottish Open last year when I had a knee strain but apart from that I don’t recall ever having an in-match injury and having to call it like that, so it was probably a first for me in this regard.”
Looking back over 2022 Kirsty admitted it has been packed with highs and lows: “I feel like I have achieved over in some parts and under in others, really it has been a year of major highs and real lows. We had the Europeans, Indonesia, Commonwealth Games and World Champs Japan and then the Japan Open.
“Then from early September we have had Denmark, the French and then Hylo so around 13-15 tournaments in total.
“At the Commonwealths I was very frustrated as my preparation going into them was horrific and five weeks out I had an ab strain and then a great week of training, then I got covid while the next week was also a great week of training. Then the last thing I did was to put my back out and that required an MRI and a CT.
“So if someone had said to me I can offer you fourth place (Commonwealth Games finish) while I was on an MRI machine I would have said: ‘Okay!” but I was one point away from a medal and had a match point in my semi-final against Michelle Li from Canada after all that. But I have to look at that all as a positive”
“As for the Worlds I was still recovering from the back injury and did the best I could but being 17 in the world with 16 seeds for the World Champs didn’t help! Obviously this meant I missed seeding by one and started out in the round of 64 against opposition similarly ranked to myself.
“I put up a good fight but couldn’t get the win but I lost first round and that is the pits as I hate losing first round and that was probably the low point of the year.”
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