The 2009-2010 season has proved to be a fruitful time for Scotland’s number 1 badminton player, Susan Egelstaff.
The Glasgow based 27 year old, who is poised to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games for the third time in Delhi in October, has enjoyed a season-long run of on-court successes and consistently impressive performances both domestically and internationally.
Married life certainly seems to be agreeing with Egelstaff and since her wedding last June to husband Dylan, her achievements have included winning the prestigious Scottish International Championships for the first time and retaining her Scottish National title, lifting the trophy for the fifth time. Ranked 27 in the world, her season culminated with an invitation to the Badminton Europe circuit finals earlier this month where she finished as runner-up to Ella Diehl, the player she defeated in the final of the Scottish International, by the narrowest of margins.
In recognition of her achievements, Egelstaff has been named the Clydesdale Bank Athlete of the Month for June, receiving £500 towards her training and competition costs in the process. The scheme, being run by Commonwealth Games Scotland in conjunction with Clydesdale Bank as part of its programme of support to Team Scotland, is open to athletes in any of the 17 participating sports who are eligible to represent Scotland at this year’s Games in Delhi.
On hearing the news Egelstaff said: “It’s been a really good season for me and it’s nice to have that recognised with the Athlete of the Month Award. It’s a good confidence booster and it’s also great to get a bit of extra help financially from Clydesdale Bank towards my training and competition costs, especially with the World Championships and Commonwealth Games on the horizon.”
Among her many other achievements, Egelstaff is also Scotland’s most experienced current internationalist having represented her country an impressive 81 times. She helped Scotland’s women to the quarter finals of the European Team Championships in February, reached the same stage of the European Individual Championships in April, and came within a whisker of pulling off a career best victory in March when she almost defeated reigning world champion Lan Lu at the All England Super Series. Looking back on her season, however, it was clear what the highlight was.
“It was amazing to win the Scottish International in my home city. The atmosphere on finals day was fantastic and it really helped me. I played one of the best matches of my career against a higher ranked opponent to win that match and it was great to be able to do it in front of my home support.”
Egelstaff dedicated her win at the Scottish International to then High Performance Coach Dan Travers, but she has responded well to BADMINTONscotland’s revised coaching set-up and developed an excellent relationship with new Head Coach Yvette Yun Luo.
“Training is going really well. Yvette works me really hard but she’s a great coach and even though I’ve only been working with her for six months I can already see how much difference it’s made. She’s been excellent for me.
“We have a new Performance Coach starting too – John Quinn. He was an English international player and has also worked as a coach with Badminton England and the French Badminton Federation so he has a lot of experience of elite level badminton. He starts in July so that will obviously give the High Performance programme another boost.
“The Badminton Europe event was my last tournament until towards the end of the summer so at the moment I’m concentrating on training well and keeping myself focussed and in good shape and it’s great to work with so many good people. I have real confidence in the team around me.”
The Athlete of the Month award is a timely boost in Egelstaff’s preparations for the World Championships in August and of course the Commonwealth Games in October, where she will be a genuine medal hope.
She already has two Commonwealth bronze medals to her name, winning a team bronze in Manchester in 2002 and medalling in the individual events in women’s singles four years ago in Melbourne. This year she will be hoping to celebrate her birthday in style – she turns 28 in October during the Games – by increasing her already impressive medal count.
“It will be totally different in India compared to what I experienced in Melbourne and Manchester, but that makes it exciting. Obviously the culture is completely different over there but it’s something I’ve experienced before and I’m looking forward to experiencing it again.
“Being able to represent Scotland at a multi-sport event like the Commonwealths is always amazing too. It’s totally different compared to representing Scotland at a badminton specific tournament and I’m really looking forward to it”.
Finally, on her chances of equalling or perhaps even bettering her achievement four years ago in Melbourne: “I’d love to be able to win another medal and that’s definitely what I’m aiming for. The Commonwealths is my main focus over the next few months – everything will be building up to it.
“I’ve definitely got a chance, but it’s going to be hard. There are probably seven or eight players who all have a chance of getting to the semis so it will just come down to how everyone performs on the day. I will have a few tournaments before then though, including the World Championships, so I’m confident I will be well prepared and in good form.”