Historical. Unforgettable. Sensational. Just a handful of words which could be used to describe badminton in Scotland throughout 2017. But while the calendar has flipped to a new year, there is still plenty to be excited about in the sport right from the grassroots to the elite, with a busy 12 months in store on and off the court. Here’s the best of what to look out for, both at home and abroad for Scotland’s stars.
Scotland’s elite go global
When it comes to jet-setting around the world, Scotland’s top players frequently compete in all corners of the globe – and 2018 is going to be no different. This year will see them take to courts as far away as Gold Coast, Australia, with the Commonwealth Games high on the agenda following its successful stint in Glasgow four years ago. On home courts Scotland secured two medals, with Kirsty Gilmour looking to match if not better her silver from those Games. Speaking of silvers, Gilmour will also have fond memories of that same medal from the European Championships last year – with barely any time to wait before she goes for more. This year will take her and her compatriots to Spain – home of Carolina Marin, who dramatically pipped Gilmour to gold last time out. Meanwhile, the memories of 2017’s home TOTAL BWF World Championships still ring true for all Scottish badminton fans, though they’ll have to go further afield for a taste this year, heading to China on July 30. But there is also lots to focus on in familiar surroundings, with plenty of Scots set to make the trip to the YONEX All England – the oldest tournament in world badminton. Scotland’s youth get set to test their mettle on the continental stage in Tallinn, Estonia, where the European U19 Championships take place for both teams and individuals in September.
Home is where the heart is
While 2018 will see highlights overseas, there is also plenty to enjoy on the Scottish courts. That gets underway very soon too, with a massive entry already announced (news/Scottish-Masters-Entry) for the Scottish International Masters Championships in less than two weeks’ time. Representatives will flock to Glasgow from as far afield as the United States, Canada and China, with strong turnouts from the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia. Following quickly on, the YONEX Scottish National Championships take to the court in early February – a competition that started 110 years ago, with Gilmour and Patrick MacHugh looking to defend the two titles they each won 12 months ago. Once again, this year will see the 4 Nations Para-Badminton Championships come to Scotland – in February also – while the National Junior Championships for U13/U17 takes place in April, a month before the U11 competition. There is also the small matter of the Scottish Open Grand Prix, where Gilmour will aim to become the first Scot to defend a women’s singles title in the competition, as a whole host of Scottish talent look to make their mark at the Emirates Arena.
European Championships on the para-badminton agenda
The 4 Nations Para-Badminton Championships are back in Scotland for 2018, with the Scotstoun Leisure Centre the place to be next month. Each year the competition goes from strength to strength in the country, with the 4 Nations Working Group first established in 2005. Last year saw Fiona Christie, Aimee Allan and Karen Lyttle among those leading the way, with the Scotland players topping the podium in 13 out of the 28 categories. They will also have the chance to show their class against the best from the continent, with the BWF European Para-Badminton Championships heading to France in late October. Scotland had five representatives at last year’s BWF Para-Badminton World Championships, with the squad looking to build on those achievements on the other side of the Channel. The team also had multiple medallists the last time the competition was held, in the Netherlands in 2016, with Robert Laing among those to claim two bronzes. Colin Leslie was also on the podium, as were Deidre Nagle and Christie in a promising showing for the Scots. This year will also provide a more important 12 months than most, with para-badminton set to make its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
World Championships legacy far from slowing down
The TOTAL BWF World Championships may have had its time for Glasgow, but the legacy of the world’s biggest badminton competition is still being felt more than six months down the line. That is certainly evident in the Smash In2Badminton programme, launched by BADMINTONscotland at the start of 2017 to give people of all ages the chance to play the sport in a relaxed and fun environment. But that will head to a new level in 2018, focusing on social index of multiple deprivation areas and creating an entry point into the sport for disabled participants. Big Hit festivals and pathways for children into existing clubs are also a strong focus in 2018. That’s not all though, clubs are continuing to be supported by the Shuttlemark Club Accreditation Scheme and regional development officers, while there is also an online toolkit available to support clubs with governance, planning and strengthening their structures (news/shuttlemark-club-accreditation). Further club development workshops and a National Club Development Conference will also be organised. There will be consultation with partners, clubs and groups in each region to start to build a draft for a new four-year strategic plan which will include a review of the competition structures for clubs. In addition the Coach CPD programme will continue to be offered around the country covering a range of different topics.