Olympic Qualification, Tine Baun and the Hong Kong Open: Kirsty Gilmour

By RJ Mitchell

KIRSTY GILMOUR has revealed that she has taken a huge boost from the addition of former three-time All England singles champion Tine Baun to her corner.

Baun was on the ground at the recent World Championships in Copenhagen where she added her unique experience as a former World No.1 women’s singles player to the coaching of Scottish Badminton’s Head of Performance Ingo Kindervater.

The Dane was also on the line as Kirsty came within a whisker of defeating World No.2 and top seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan before going down 7-21, 21-16, 24-26 in last week’s Hong Kong Open.

But Kirsty has no doubt that the timing of Tine’s arrival to support the singles coaching programme has been perfect and is clear about the benefits it is already producing for her: “This is the first time in my career I have worked with a women’s singles player and it has been lovely. In terms of hitting the ground running we were straight in at the world championships, so in at the deep end and everything I am feeling and going through Tine has also come up against that as well,” shared Kirsty.

The Scotland No.1 continued: “So Tine was on the ground at the world champs but remote in Hong Kong and when I am chatting with her I don’t have to use examples to explain anything, she just absolutely gets it.

“I can contact her any time for a chat and we do pre-match and post-match talks for all my competitions and she will also hopefully come across to work with all the singles players as a whole.

“I feel like we understand each other really well. I absolutely love working with Ingo, and it is also nice to work with someone who has been so close to my situation and can offer really objective advice, so basically Tine is now supporting the singles programme.

“As a singles player I never really get a refresh, say like a doubles player can get a new partner, also I made a point of staying in Scotland so I don’t get a new environment and my only real chance of a fresh start is a new coach but for sure I don’t want Ingo to go anywhere else anytime soon!

“So it’s definitely been a plus but the work that Ingo and I have been doing over the last three years has all built the foundations and what Tine has brought to the table very quickly in the last few weeks has accelerated this with her experience and opinion on things.

“So having a secondary coach is as good a refresh as I will get.”

Reflecting on her tournament at the VICTOR Hong Kong Open, Kirsty admitted she is already benefiting from a new mindset and she said: “My ability to find some freedom was good in round one against Pai Yu Po (Chinese Taipei, w: 21-14, 21-8).

“As the previous week in China I felt a bit restricted and constrained by the conditions in the hall and my own mindset in terms of what I could and couldn’t do.

“So in Hong Kong I tried to play more on instinct and do what feels right in the moment and not over think things, so it was about stripping it back to basics and in the first round I definitely did that.

In round two top seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan awaited and as Kirsty mused the margin between success and defeat were unbelievably agonising after she just failed to convert a final set match point with a cross court smash: “It still really hurts but if I think about the bigger picture of the rankings and my recent performances and how I have managed to put in some good stuff this week I am a little bit happier, so it’s a massively mixed bag!” admitted Kirsty.

She continued: “I had a couple of match points and one of them I played perfectly and went up for a cross court smash from around the head and it went wide of the line by a couple of centimetres! It was that tight.

“Afterwards when I spoke with Ingo and Tine, we set out how we were going to approach the post-match chat as I didn’t want to be saying: ‘I am just so happy to have taken it so close’.

“But also not to tear myself apart because it was so close and I lost it so we really tried to have a balanced and objective conversation.

“We maybe played 90-100 points in the whole match and if that one smash had been in we would be having a completely different conversation – but that was the point it shouldn’t and wasn’t a completely different conversation as the bulk of the match was really good.”

Kirsty is now having a short break at home before starting a frantic tournament schedule which will see her embark on a European tour competing at the Arctic Open, Denmark Open, French Open and Hylo Open consecutively.

As she chases Olympic qualification points this will mean the former two-time Scottish Open champion will miss this year’s event but Kirsty has no doubt about the importance it will represent to her fellow Scottish internationalists.

The World No.28 said: “I’m gutted to miss the Scottish Open as it’s one of my favourite tournaments on the circuit. It has, without doubt, been one of the key events in my development and it was my first international tournament when I was 15 and I was thrown into qualification to see what happened.

“Then from that I won it in 2017 and 2018 and it came full circle so for any of the Scottish players it is a massive opportunity to develop and to learn how to play in front of a home crowd and use that.

“So I am gutted not to be playing it as it’s a lot of fun and I’m really disappointed to be missing it.”

While she was in Hong Kong, Kirsty also took some time to embark on media work behind the microphone for the BWF (World Badminton Federation), so could this be a new career flight path?

Kirsty shared: “Colour commentary is the official term and it was the online stream on YouTube and I was there to give my thoughts on the play as it happened and add a bit of insight but I did spend a lot of time going: ‘Ooh and Aah’!

“That said it gave me the chance to sit down and just enjoy watching matches and maybe potentially it could be something for the future and I’ve had some nice feedback which is always nice.”