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Smillie believes Grill exit can open door to fresh approach

Anne Smillie, the chief executive of Badminton Scotland, has described yesterday's announcement that the British programme's performance director has quit as "an opportunity" for the sport.

Jens Grill claimed he was putting a world-class development programme in place when he was appointed to head up the GB performance team three years ago but his dogmatic attitude to basing players in Milton Keynes proved deeply controversial.

It led in 2012 to the withdrawal from the GB programme of Britain's leading female doubles player Imogen Bankier - a world championship silver medalist - followed last year by her fellow Scot Kirsty Gilmour, the country's leading singles player.

Commenting through Twitter on Grill's departure, Smillie branded his time in office a failure, but suggested that the way was now open to a more cohesive approach.

"The departure of GB performance director Jens Grill should be seen as an opportunity," she said. "His system has failed to produce results at all major events; 2012 London Olympics, 2013 World Championships etc. Let's hope the system is now questioned."

Last week's results at the European Championships where England picked up only one silver and one bronze medal, with several of their individuals and pairings under-performing, seems to have been the final straw.

"It is with great sadness that I have decided to step down. I plan to take a complete break from the sport," said Grill. "I feel it is best to leave now so that my successor has the right amount of time to shape our Olympic programme. They will arrive to find a strong coaching infrastructure and a talented squad of both experienced and emerging players and I hope they get as much pleasure out of the job as I have.

"Most importantly, they will find that a secure Olympic funding programme is firmly in place as we work towards Rio 2016."

Adrian Christy, chief executive of Badminton England, which also manages the GB programme, spoke generously about Grill but there was a hint in a reference to the Dane's "integrity" and the "timing of the decision" that he had been allowed to be seen to do the right thing.

"I am very disappointed to be losing Jens but the timing of his decision says everything about his integrity," said Christy.

"The energy and commitment Jens has invested into the England and GB World Class Performance Programme has been world class in itself and he should be very proud of not just the achievements of the programme during his time with us but the position that he leaves for his successor as we look ahead to Rio in 2016 and beyond.

"Our attention will focus immediately on securing somebody with the right skills, experience and character to take the programme into the Rio Olympic campaign, to work with a great team of coaches and support staff, and critically to further develop the exciting group of players who have so much to look forward to."

It is clear that those need to include the best players and that a system which is funded by British tax-payers but has clearly failed some of Britain's leading players, must be re-examined.

The performances of the Scots at the European Championships only served to underline that more needs to be done to ensure that the programme has the flexibility to offer proper support to the best players since they, too, suffered disappointments.

Bankier was the lone Scottish medallist in Russia, picking up bronze with Bulgarian Petya Nedelcheva in the women's doubles, while she and Robert Blair failed to live up to their fourth seeding in the mixed doubles, dropping out in the quarter-finals.

Gilmour, meanwhile, suffered an even bigger disappointment when she exited in the third round having been seeded to reach the final of the women's singles.

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