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Gilmour exits time warp with a little help from the fans

The opportunity to absorb the atmosphere around their home city has helped address the hiatus, but for Scotland's most obvious badminton medal contenders, it has still felt like a long wait to get back into action since Saturday's disappointing exit from the team competition.

kirsty gilmour recovered after a poor start.Picture: Martin Shields
kirsty gilmour recovered after a poor start.Picture: Martin Shields

For Kirsty Gilmour, in particular, it could have been a miserable time since the second seed in the women's singles' surprise defeat by an opponent who is 16 places below her in the world rankings cost Scotland the chance of an upset in their quarter-final against eventual gold medallists Malaysia, and she was clearly re-energised as she cruised past Australia's Verdet Kessler 21-14, 21-5, playing better and better as the game went on.

"It's been like a time warp: only a few days but it feels like about two weeks," she admitted afterwards.

However, she returned to the arena with a fresh sense of perspective. "I've never seen the city like this. It's amazing how sport can just bring everyone together," said the 20-year-old. "If it's a music concert, that doesn't really suit everyone, but with this massive, multi-sport event you've got to like something.

"Nothing brings people together like sport. It's a common cause. It's not a matter of taste, it's a matter of who's competing and really getting behind someone. It's a massive group effort and Glasgow is thoroughly behind this Games."

As with all the Scottish competitors, she naturally sees it as her job to reward them for that backing and the draw gives her a pretty decent chance of doing so and living up to her seeding.

The same could hardly be said for the other Scots who are seeded to medal, since Imogen Bankier and Robert Blair, the third seeds in the mixed doubles, always knew they had the toughest of opening matches to negotiate yesterday, and duly did so, albeit not without a scare.

After losing the opening game 21-15, it took them close to an hour to subdue Malaysian pair Wei Shen Goh and Loo Lin, taking both the second and third games 21-14.

However, up against a pairing from one of the badminton superpowers and, for all that their reward is another meeting with a dangerous pair, Singapore's Terry Hee and Mingtian Fu, they were entitled to draw considerable confidence from the way they worked out what they needed to do.

"We knew Hee's a very, very good player, having seen him in the team event in the men's doubles, and she's no slouch either, but as a mixed combination we didn't really know what to expect, so it was a little bit more tricky than we envisaged," said former world championship silver medallist Bankier.

"It took us quite a while to adapt to his speed. He's quite a special player. But we did well in the end to turn it around and try to nullify his strength as much as we could and calm our nerves a bit as well after losing the first."

Blair echoed that sentiment. "We didn't know their style, so it's quite difficult to plan your game and know what to expect, but once we found a weakness in them and could go at it a bit more, we improved our serve returning," he said.

"I think when we were looking at the draw we were a bit disappointed, because they are a pair who can go and win the tournament. The Malaysians are all world class players, so this was possibly our hardest game until the latter stages. I hope to God they get easier after that."

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