IN the second of our two-part feature series on outstanding young Scottish Badminton talents we shine the spotlight firmly on Robroyston’s Katrina Chan.
BY RJ Mitchell
IT was arguably the most dramatic moment of the 2023 Scottish National Badminton Championships and one that summed up the intense emotions that are generated by sport at the highest level.
At just 16, Katrina Chan had battled her way through to the semi-finals of the nationals for the first time by taking out No.4 seed Basia Grodynska with a mature display that belied her tender years.
Yet it was her ensuing epic semi-final encounter with Chloe Hunt, which ended when a controversial call handed Hunt a 23-21 victory in the deciding stanza – Katrina believes this has now provided her with an invaluable experience which will bring more rewards than any victory could ever do.
Indeed it was the great Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who coined the phrase: ‘There is no education like adversity,’ and with the Yonex Glasgow Women’s Doubles Championships and Mary Russell Award for outstanding achievement already attained since the Scottish Nationals, it is one that this outstanding young Scottish Badminton prospect has wasted no time in proving.
Reflecting on all of this Katrina said: “I was obviously really disappointed at the way it ended but looking back now I have learned an awful lot from that semi.
“I was really proud of the way I kept going until the end, Chloe is a very strong player but we had a lot of tough rallies and I stayed with her and that was all very positive for me.
“I know that the way it ended with the call was disappointing but also that going forward there are likely to be other similar experiences and now I know what to expect and how to handle them so I learned so much from all of that.
“Really you just can’t do anything about it and the key is to learn from it and move on.”
After quarter-final appearances in the previous two Scottish Nationals Katrina has no doubt that this helped provide her with a strong platform this time around and she said: “This was my third Scottish senior nationals and that was very good preparation for this year as I knew what to expect.
“I had Basia in the quarters and I just focussed on doing my best as she is a really good player and I had played her a few times before and she beat me every time so I wasn’t expecting to beat her.
“This time though my mindset was not to think about winning, that was not my first priority, I just wanted to play my best and see where that took me and then it was probably the best match I had ever played.
“I was a bit nervous but I had a plan and my coach Craig Goddard was very helpful with advice and singling out what I need to do better game by game and I came through.”
When it came to her recent recognition there was no doubting Katrina’s pride at winning the Mary Russell Award, with Lewis Smith taking the boys accolade, which is presented in memory of the former convener of the Glasgow & North Strathclyde Group (GNS) who was known, in particular, for her support of junior players.
The award was first presented by GNS in 1997 to young players who have shown the best achievement, improvement and ‘sportspersonship’ in the past year and Katrina admitted: “I am really proud to win the Mary Russell award and it came as a complete surprise but I am so happy I was chosen this year to win it.
“Also to win the doubles with Ishbel McCallister (victory coming against Sophie Barrie and Nivedha Srinivasan 21- 17, 21-19) at the Yonex was massive as it was my first senior title and we played against really good players and that only helps to improve your level.
“So these were just two very special moments for me.”
A multiple winner of national junior titles all the way up from the under-11 age group up, Katrina has also already represented Scotland at European Championship level at under-17 level after taking the sport up at Scotstoun as a six-year-old with brother Calvin, who was a Scottish ranked player.
But now the Bellahouston Academy pupil has admitted that her ambitions extend far beyond the junior ranks while she admits that plenty of hard work will be needed to fulfil her dreams: “I’ve always wanted to be a singles player and I’d love to play for Scotland one day as a full senior international,” said Katrina.
The Scotland junior international continued: “I think in this respect my physicality will need to improve but time is on my side with me only being 16 and I will just keep working hard and see where it takes me.
“It would definitely be a dream of mine to play for Scotland at the Commonwealths one day.”
Katrina will soon be back in action at the West of Scotland Under-19 championships. The Scotland No.9 Women’s ranked player said: “At 11 or 12 I applied for the Glasgow School of Sport and it has been really good for me as the coaching there from Craig Robertson, Iain Pringle and Lena Robertson has been brilliant.
“They really developed my skills as well as helping me develop my physical training and just gave me a really good base.
“So it was a really good start for me and I am very grateful for all the hard work they have put into me and my game over the last few years.”
At Badminton Scotland we look forward to seeing what’s next for Katrina, and will be keeping a close eye as her career continues to blossom.