THE Olympics seem a distant memory for most people now, although everyone remembers the gold won by rowing heroes Redgrave and Pinsent in a year where British representatives were left clutching a mere handful of medals on the journey back across the Atlantic from Atlanta.

One woman, though, can look back with pride at her achievement in just reaching the games. On the way, she became a piece of history - for Anne Gibson was the first Scottish badminton player to represent her country at the Olympics.

If she had been a golfer or a tennis player, she would probably be a household name, but the top players at this sport are largely unknown by the grassroots who turn up in church halls and school halls all over the country for their weekly match followed by tea and a gossip. Their game is light years away from the one played at the top of the tree.

On Saturday, at the Scottish Open Championships, Anne received a presentation from the SBU to mark her achievement in getting to Atlanta.

Looking back on the Games, she said: ``Obviously I was disappointed not to have lasted a bit longer in the competition, but it was amazing just to be part of something like that.''

Plenty of determination and effort went into gaining selection for the team, with Anne's path to Atlanta fraught with injury problems. She had keyhole surgery on her left knee, and has since had problems with her right one.

Badminton has been her sport since she was a child in Dumfriesshire. ``I started playing in the garden,'' she recalled. ``My parents played a bit and I also enjoyed hockey and cross-country running.''

However, badminton was to draw her in and her coach, the legendary Jim Thompson, persuaded her to move down to England a couple of years ago to improve her game. It meant she could practise with some of the leading lights in Britain.

Anne works part-time to help finance her badminton. ``It can be a grind trying to find the money,'' she said.

``Before the Olympics, I had to go to tournaments in the Far East and organising the finance for that can be hard. I had some help from the SBU, but they have limited resources.

``Many people think you've got a screw loose if you dedicate so much time to being a badminton player, but it's like a drug - you just become addicted. And, of course, you'd never get into badminton if you wanted to make money.''

In September, she married Cameron Robertson - another stalwart of Scottish badminton, Aileen Travers, wife of national coach Dan, being the matron of honour.

After more treatment for injury, however, Anne was back in competition last weekend, winning the Buckinghamshire Open. As she left clutching a cheque for #80, she headed for a nearby multi-storey car park to consider the ways she would spend her windfall.

``Sometimes you think how good it would be to do the things others do - buying clothes or something indulgent for a change,'' she said. It wasn't long, however, before she knew where the money would have to go: one of her car windows having been smashed while she was competing.

Many badminton hopefuls are now going full-time in a bid to make it on the international stage, but not Anne. ``Some of those who do that become a bit obsessive and lose touch with the real world. And I go to work for a rest,'' she says.

Each day she trains for at least four hours, either running, doing circuits or shadow badminton, as well as practising with some of the leading English players.

The World Championships come to Glasgow next year, but before that Anne has an important target. She holds a record-equalling seven national titles for singles. Her sights are firmly set on going one better at the end of January.

It just means even more training. Victory would be a fitting prize for someone who has proved such an unassuming but valuable ambassador for Scottish badminton.