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'If I inspire one kid to pick up a racket, I've done a good job'

Kirsty Gilmour believes a huge victory has been won for her sport as Scotland's top singles player joined compatriots Imogen Bankier and Robert Blair in the last four of the badminton competition.

ROAD TO GLORY: Kirsty Gilmour dispatched Michelle Chan,  the sixth seed, yesterday  to reach  the singles  semi-final.Picture: Colin Mearns
ROAD TO GLORY: Kirsty Gilmour dispatched Michelle Chan, the sixth seed, yesterday to reach the singles semi-final.Picture: Colin Mearns

The 20-year-old from Bothwell produced her best performance of the Games in easing past Michelle Chan, the sixth seed from New Zealand, 21-9, 21-10 in yesterday's quarter-final.

Gilmour had met the same highly experienced opponent in a singles tie during last week's team event and found her much harder to overcome. "That was a lot better than in the team event," she said.

"I think I was bit more prepared and even though the crowd was bigger, I'm a bit more used to it now. I'm pretty tired but hopefully I've got a lot left."

Her excitement, though, was not confined to being guaranteed involvement in the medal matches. "This place is packed and I know how difficult it is to pack the Emirates Arena," said Gilmour.

"This is unbelievable and I think it can only go up from here. We've showcased some brilliant games here and I think badminton's grown in popularity form the last eight days. Hopefully it will be a snowball effect.

"There's a last couple of seats in here that aren't filled. Hopefully we'll get some bums on them."

Indeed, as Gimour noted, the true meaning of the Games legacy was demonstrated by the excited reaction of the crowd, many of whom were battering 'thundersticks', promoting the next big opportunity to enjoy top class international badminton in the same arena during the Scottish Open Grand Prix later this year.

"If people come to the Commonwealth Games, they'll come to the Scottish International in November in this same arena," she said. "We could always use some more bums on seats at the Scottish Nationals too. If I inspire one more kid to pick up a racket, I've done a pretty good job."

Kieran Merrilees, the Scottish men's singles champion, was unable to match Gilmour's performance in reaching the semi-finals as he was beaten by regular training partner Raj Ouseph. "It's frustrating. He's playing very well but I don't know what happened," Merrilees said afterwards. "There's no shame in losing to him but I can play better."

Today will see another fascinating Scotland-England clash in the arena as Blair and Bankier meet their former partners Chris and Gabby Adcock with a guaranteed medal on the line. Since the draw was made the prospect of the two pairs meeting has been tantalising and the Scots in particular have done well to get there.

"When we saw the draw and we had the Malaysian pair and the Singapore pair it was quite unsettling because, even though we were third seeds we were handed a tough one when we maybe expected it to be a bit more comfortable," said Bankier, who won a world championship mixed doubles silver medal with Chris Adcock three years ago.

"So to get through the first two rounds then come out and perform well today, quite convincingly, gives us a bit of confidence and we are now where we want to be."

While the English pair are top seeds the Scots have the psychological boost of having won the only time they have met, in this year's German Open - a tournament Bankier and Blair went on to win.

However they know this is a very different environment with so much more at stake. "Obviously we know the Adcocks very well. I played with Chris, Rob played with Gabby and we've played against them as well," said Bankier. "We know that if we play our best badminton we've got a really good chance of playing well tomorrow and hopefully they'll be under pressure as the top seeds in the tournament.

"It's difficult not to take history on to the court, but we're confident having beaten them once before. We know we can and we have that belief, but we can't underestimate them and they're going to come out with a good gameplan as well."

She acknowledged the irony of having to beat the former partner with whom she experienced her career high in order to go one better.

"It's difficult to surpass getting to a World Championship final, especially since it was so unexpected. That's what made it extra special that year, so it's hard to really compare them, but of course it would be certainly up there if we could get through tomorrow," said Bankier.

"The thing is how rare this opportunity is, to be playing a Commonwealth Games at home in Glasgow. That's what makes it so special, whereas the World Championships is probably the most prestigious badminton tournament, however it does come every year.

"Saying that, it's not easy to do well every year, but any event's going to be incomparable to playing in this venue with this crowd. I'd say it's hard to compare anything to this."

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