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Sky's the limit for Kirsty Gilmour after Glasgow success, but World Championship medals can wait

HAVING claimed Scotland's last piece of Commonwealth Games silverware, Kirsty Gilmour takes to the world stage next week with every right to feel satisfied.

Kirsty Gilmour won silver on the closing weekend of the Commonwealth Games but admits she was not in the right mindset for the final
Kirsty Gilmour won silver on the closing weekend of the Commonwealth Games but admits she was not in the right mindset for the final

The 20-year-old achieved the greatest singles success in Scottish badminton history by reaching that major championship final and winning her silver medal, rewarding herself and those who backed her for their courage and foresight.

When Gilmour withdrew from the GB Badminton system to focus on what she considered more of a priority than its officials, some inside the sport questioned Badminton Scotland's claims that they could surpass their official target of one medal. Yet that was achieved when her singles semi-final win was followed by Imogen Bankier and Robert Blair winning their mixed doubles bronze medal match.

With a long season finally set to end this week at the World Championships in Denmark she knows that what she has done is truly special but such is her competitive nature that there is still a sense that it could and should have been better.

"I haven't really had time for it to sink in fully and I suppose the down side is that silver's the only medal where you end on a loss, but I am just trying to remember the semi-final and how that felt," she said.

"I am disappointed I didn't quite get my head in the right place for the final. I thought I was ready and focused but in hindsight I don't think I was and I'll learn from that.

"It is better to get these lessons now, though and not when I'm 26 or 27. I've learned some pretty hard lessons over the past couple of years."

That she says so, in spite of already having claimed a string of significant titles over that period, speaks to the competitiveness that will drive her onwards. "I am a quick learner and I know I don't like feeling that way so I'll be doing everything in my power not to let it happen again," she said.

"All I'm thinking about now is what is the best way for me to get better?

"The support I have had from both the GB programme and in Scotland has been really good and I certainly don't regret the decision to come out of the GB programme. It wasn't a personal thing, it was just that the Games were something I wanted to make a really, really big push for as an aim for my season. They didn't put such importance on it."

Given the huge funding provided by UK Sport for what should be a pan-British programme, the attitude of those running it towards the country's best singles player's Games ambition seemed shameful, but personnel changes have been made there and Gilmour would welcome an invite to rejoin, saying simply: "I hope we can come to some sort of agreement."

While the World Championships represent the pinnacle of the sport, knowledgeable coaches should be balancing the benefits of giving their charges the right challenges for their career progression in which light Gilmour's pragmatic assessment of next week's prospects are enlightening. "I'm under no illusions," she said. "Realistically I don't think this worlds is my chance to medal.

"Even getting to the quarter-finals would mean I need to beat two people ranked above me, so I'm taking this as another experience."

Ambitious as Gilmour is, it is also clear that, far from getting carried away, she has retained perspective since claiming her medal. Both mum and dad have booked slots to take the medal into work while increased recognition is at a tolerable level. "The support I've had has been tremendous and I got recognised in ASDA the other day, which was pretty cool," she chuckled.

Beyond this week, then, there will be a chance to take stock and to address a niggling wrist injury, a post-Games scan having thankfully identified no significant damage other than bone bruising that has been unable to recover during six months of relentless activity.

"The summer of 2014 has been kind to me already," she said. "Anything past the second round would be a success at the worlds, so it is quite nice to feel relatively relaxed."

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