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Robert McCoig

The death has occurred in hospital in Colchester, after a short illness, of Robert McCoig, the man generally acknowledged as Scotland's greatest badminton player. He was 61.

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Educated at Greenock High School and Glasgow University, McCoig first took up the shuttle game with his parents and his uncle Bob (who was also an internationalist) at St George's Church, playing in the Churches' League, and later joined Greenock Accies. He played his first international for Scotland against Ireland at Paisley Drill Hall in 1956, the same season as he won his first Scottish title, the mixed doubles, and went on to dominate the Scottish scene, winning the Scottish National singles title 15 times in reaching 18 finals in a row, a record which may never be broken. His only defeats were in his first and last years, and in 1965, when he was beaten by Jim Sydie, who sadly died in Canada just two months ago. McCoig was even more proud of his Scottish Open Championship record in which he won four singles titles in a row, his first success preventing Lee Kin Tat of Malaysia from completing a treble which would have allowed him to keep the trophy, a feat which McCoig himself then accomplished. Seeded eighth in the men's singles for the 1961 All-England Championships and later losing a play-off for the bronze medal in the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica, this doubty Greenockian was as versatile as he was durable and equally effective in doubles play. Awarded the MBE for his services to badminton and a stickler for the rules, only the lack of a decisive smash prevented his going to the very top of the world game. But, in a 20-year international career he did win a Commonwealth bronze medal in the mixed doubles, with Muriel Ferguson in Jamaica in 1966, and also struck bronze in the European men's doubles with his friend Mac Henderson, even as late as the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games being only a game away from a bronze with Fraser Gow. Moving south to work with Philips, McCoig spent the past 20 years in ''exile'', adapting so successfully to being an ''Essex man'' that he was made captain of Colchester Golf Club. Ever mindful of his roots, however, he surprised the members at their Burns Supper with his spirited Immortal Memory on the theme of ''Burns the Socialist''. Having only recently retired, McCoig had returned to playing badminton and intended taking part in last month's World Over-60s Championships in the US. He travelled out to the event with his wife, Sheila, but was too ill to take part and had to return home to be admitted to hospital. He is survived by Sheila, daughters Marion and Fiona, and son Fergus. A memorial service will be held at St George's North Church, Greenock on Saturday, September 12, at 2pm.

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