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Shuttle starlets shut out

Officials at Scottish badminton's governing body are poised to appeal against the selection system despite winning their battle to enter a full 10-player team into the Commonwealth Games.

Team Scotland are targeting a medal in the team event at Glasgow 2014, to emulate the bronze they picked up in 2002. Picture: SNS
Team Scotland are targeting a medal in the team event at Glasgow 2014, to emulate the bronze they picked up in 2002. Picture: SNS

Ronnie Conway, the organisation's president, outlined Badminton Scotland's position yesterday at a lunch at the Emirates Arena that was being staged to celebrate the naming of the team. He told guests the decision not to let two additional players take part in individual events was "incomprehensible".

There had been some relief registered within his organisation when the team was finalised - it is understood there had previously been attempts to restrict them only to players who had reached what were very high individual qualification standards set by Commonwealth Games Scotland.

That would have put Scotland at a major disadvantage for the team event - in which they won a bronze medal in 2002 - since those teams that fielded a full quota of five men and five women would have been able to rest key personnel for the easier matches, whereas the host nation would not.

The inclusion of Caitlin Pringle and Rebekka Findlay in the line-up has resolved that. However, there was a sting in the tail when the youngsters were told that they are being denied entry to the separate individual competition.

Badminton is one of the sports in which a team event takes place before the players then get the chance to pursue medals again in men's and women's singles and doubles and mixed doubles competitions.

Once players have been selected for the team event there is nothing to prevent them from taking part in those other disciplines unless their own governing body prevents them from doing so.

Conway consequently announced, during yesterday's lunch, that Badminton Scotland would appeal against the decision and do everything they could to have it reversed.

"We're disappointed on behalf of the girls," he told Herald Sport afterwards. "We're delighted that we've managed to get a team because there's been a huge effort involved. However, these girls are better than half the competition which will be arriving at The Emirates.

"We are not talking about Eddie the Eagle here. These girls are international players, quality players. As far as I am aware this is the first time that anyone has been in the team event who has not been entered for the individual event.

"The rationale is that they have failed to meet the selection criteria which involves effectively being world class. Badminton didn't sign up to that criteria. We think the bar was set too high. For the Commonwealth Games it should be Commonwealth class.

"These girls would not in any way be out of their element in this competition. I think I've got to accept that realistically they might not be medal winners yet, but they are both very, very young. It would be great for a home crowd to get to see them compete and who knows what they might go on to achieve with the encouragement they would get here?

"We've already seen Kirsty Gilmour [currently the second-highest European in the world rankings] go to Delhi four years ago with no chance of a medal there but play in the individual event, then make enormous strides in the three or four years since. Who's to say the same couldn't happen for both these girls? So it's incomprehensible to us that these girls aren't in the individual events."

Conway noted that the decision had repercussions beyond those for the girls themselves as it will deny one of their higher-ranked team-mates an opportunity to compete in one of her best events.

"This also impacts quite heavily on Jillie Cooper, who is genuinely world class and now has no ladies doubles partner. She would play with Caitlin Pringle," said the president.

He believes, however, that since the only people denying these promising youngsters a valuable opportunity would be Commonwealth Games Scotland, common sense can still prevail.

"We will be appealing the decision and we are hopeful they will think again for the sake of the girls, for the sake of the tournament and for the sake of the crowd who are turning up," he said.

In seeking to defend the decision, Commonwealth Games Scotland claimed last night that selection process was in line with policies that were being applied across all sports.

"Following a highly competitive selection period, we are delighted to announce a very strong group of athletes to represent Team Scotland in badminton at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, including Caitlin Pringle and Rebekka Findlay," said their spokesperson.

"Caitlin and Rebekka have been selected to carry out a very specific and vital support role throughout the team event in a process consistent with that of other sports.

"The robust selection process, as endorsed by all our member sports in 2011, is key to achieving the aim to deliver our most successful-ever Games."

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