Posted on 12th June 2023
By RJ Mitchell
KIRSTY GILMOUR is relishing her meeting with ‘team mate’ Beiwen Zhang in the first round of the Kapal Api Group Indonesia Open in Jakarta.
The duo both play for Vendsyssel in the Danish ‘Badmintonligaen’ and have become good pals on the international circuit.
But when Kirsty meets her American opponent in the first round of the HSBC BWF World Tour Super 1000 event, friendly fire will be at its most ferocious, as the Scottish champion looks to bounce back to winning ways.
Reflecting on all of this Kirsty said: “I know Beiwen pretty well, I‘ve played against her a few times but we also play for the same club in Denmark and have done a for a few years.
“Vendsyssel is in Skagen which is as far north as you can go and is the point where two seas meet and my club manager and his partner own the gift shop in the car park on the absolute most northern point of Denmark. So it’s tough to get to but one of my favourite places in the whole world!
“But I’d say Beiwen is one of my friends on tour and this will be a tough one, she has been top-12 in the past and I have a couple of wins over her and she does over me.
“Beiwen is very much a skills player and her shot quality is really good so I will have to be very prepared for that and she is very good at taking you out of your rhythm, so I need to set a high pace and get her to work hard.
“Beiwen definitely has the racket skills to get herself out of tough situations. So it is a matchup of styles with me being more physical and Beiwen being very skill based.”
With Kirsty narrowly missing out on victories in a series of hard-fought matches in recent weeks the Scottish No.1 admits that she is drawing from all her experience as she looks to get the details right that will allow her to start stringing the victories together.
The World No.34 said: “This is not the first time I’ve had a rough patch in my career and I know they always work themselves out and I just have to do everything I can in between the tournaments to help make that happen.
“So I need to tough it out, get my head down and work on the little things rather than reinvent the wheel and catastrophise over anything major.
“Badminton right now in women’s singles, in what is Olympic qualification year, is right up there as one of the toughest disciplines. The quality is just so high at present, it always has been high but the amount of potential top-15 players, or girls which have that quality, is maybe 30 – 35.
“So it’s tough out there but I will work through it. It’s not fun and you have to just grit your teeth and get on with it but I have daily conversations with coaches and support staff on how to shake off these cobwebs and get back to some form of consistency.
“Right now it is just not quite coming together but I am confident I will get it all back together again and experience and having been through this whole process before is a big help in that respect.”
As Kirsty admitted injury and illness have at key times conspired against her as she searches for her best form: “I think it is literally just little pieces. But I also think I have been quite hard on myself in terms of the last year I’ve had considering I had a major back injury around this time last year,” admitted the Scottish No.1
She continued: “Then illness and a knee injury this year and that means I have not had a clear run at training and that means you aren’t just quite as sharp as you’d like and these tiny percentages have an impact.
“But I am chipping away at things day by day and confident it is all coming back together.”
With the GB European Games squad just announced and the split between Scots and English 50/50, Kirsty admitted this is something that has given her a timely boost: “It will be fun and nice to have everyone in the same place and we have a good Scotland & England split on Team GB, as in the past I have had to hold the fort the Scots on my own, so it will be great to have my team mates along!
“I really love multi-sport events and it will be quite fun going into a group stage and that will allow me to get a good few games in the hall and hopefully I can seal them off to get to the quarter-finals.
“I’m always shooting at a medal for anything European, I’d say there are a realistic six maybe seven players who could medal at European level so I have to do everything in my power to make sure I am in the hunt.
“Last time it was top four to get a medal and I’d like to at least be one of them and I just hope it is a particularly shiny colour.”
Also in action this week in Jakarta are Scottish men’s doubles champions Adam Hall and Alex Dunn who have drawn the no.3 seeded Japanese pair of Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi.
In the women’s doubles Julie MacPherson and Ciara Torrance face Yeung Nga Ting and Yeung Pui Lam of Hong Kong (China).