As Team Scotland’s athletes enter Olympic year and intensify their drive towards becoming part of Team GB in Rio, Kirsty Gilmour had almost the perfect start as she overcame the two players immediately above her in the badminton world rankings to reach the final of the Malaysia Masters in Penang.
Unseeded in the competition and currently the World No.20, Kirsty survived a scare in the second round, fighting back from 20-15 down in the deciding game to win against Japanese qualifier Kawakami. Finding her stride and playing some inspired badminton she then went on to defeat Ongbumrungphan and Hashimoto, ranked World No 19 and 18 respectively, to set up a final clash with P.V Sindhu of India.
Kirsty had crossed paths with her final opponent before – on the podium at Glasgow 2014. On that occasion, though the two did not meet on the court, Kirsty took silver to Sindhu’s bronze. However, Sindhu, two time World bronze medallist and current World No.12, was always going to be a tough opponent.
Ultimately Kirsty found the Indian 3rd seed too strong, going down 21-15 21-9, but despite her disappointment in the final she will take a great deal from what was a fantastic performance at the Grand Prix Gold event.
She said: “Of course I’m disappointed with the result in the final. The shuttle felt so sensitive today. I tried everything in my power to get it under control and find some rhythm. I managed it in some rallies but not consistently enough. But overall it’s been a good tournament for me.
“I’ve learned a lot this week and Chris (Bruil) and I have a plan going forward to improve some key areas when we get home and back to training.
“But for now, I’m looking forward to testing myself out in the Syed Modi International.”
With that tournament, another Grand Prix Gold event, starting on Tuesday in Lucknow, India, Kirsty doesn’t have long to wait for her next challenge on the road towards a place at Rio 2016.