Scotland’s badminton stars ready to shine

SCOTLAND’S badminton players faced the media for the last time today before going into lockdown in the final build-up to the Commonwealth Games.

With just two weeks to go to the start of Glasgow 2014 the 10 Team Scotland players were kitted out in their official Commonwealth Games tracksuits for the first time when they appeared at the Glasgow School of Sport this morning.

 Robert Blair is the oldest member of the squad at 32 while Caitlin Pringle and Rebekka Findlay (who is in line for her Scotland senior international debut in the team event) are the youngest at 20.

 While Findlay will be winning her first international cap in the opening week of the Games, Imogen Bankier, who is Scotland’s most-capped current player, will build on her 52 appearances.

 The Scotland squad will be able to draw on their unbeaten display at last year’s Sudirman Cup, when they finished top of Group 2, when they tackle the team event. The squad will also be aiming to better Scotland’s team bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.

 In the individual events Kirsty Gilmour will be trying to match women’s singles star Susan Egelstaff’s 2006 bronze in Melbourne and her 2010 fourth place in Delhi while Blair and Bankier, who have already won the Scottish Open Grand Prix and Yonex German Open titles, will also be challenging for a place on the podium in the mixed doubles.

 Six of the squad already have Commonwealth Games experience with Kieran Merrilees, Paul Van Rietvelde, Gilmour, Bankier and Jillie Cooper having competed in the 2010 Games in New Delhi and Blair having represented England in 2002 and 2006, the year he won a world silver in men’s doubles.

Bankier also has experience at the highest level, having won a world mixed doubles silver at Wembley Arena in 2011.

Team manager Christine Black said:

“We have a good blend of youth and experience in our squad. It is going to be a great challenge for the younger players and our top players like Robert and Imogen will be able to pass on their experience.

“The whole squad is preparing well and they will be ready to rise to the occasion. Playing on home turf is going to be a great inspiration for them and I am confident they will cope with the pressure of expectation.”

BADMINTONscotland Chief Executive Anne Smillie said:

“Our squad must be the envy of all Scotland’s badminton players. It will be an unforgettable experience for them to compete in a Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and I urge the Scotland fans to get right behind them throughout the 11 days of the badminton competition.

“All our players know the Arena from playing there in last November’s Scottish Open Grand Prix and we are hoping they will have some medals to show off when they play there again at this year’s Open in November.

BADMINTONscotland wishes them every success at Glasgow 2014. We are right behind them all the way.”

The full squad is:

Robert Blair                   Mixed Doubles, Men’s Doubles, Team

Martin Campbell            Men’s Doubles, Team

Patrick MacHugh           Men’s Doubles, Team

Kieran Merrilees            Men’s Singles, Team

Paul Van Rietvelde         Men’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles, Team

Imogen Bankier              Mixed Doubles, Women’s Doubles, Team

Jillie Cooper                   Mixed Doubles, Team

Rebekka Findlay            Team

Kirsty Gilmour               Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles, Team

Caitlin Pringle                Team    

Team manager: Christine Black. Coaches: Yvette Yun Luo, Chris Bruil and Andy Bowman.

Team event: July 24-28. Individual events: July 30-August 3.

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