Team Scotland are through to the quarter-finals of the Mixed Team Event in badminton after a decisive 5-0 victory over New Zealand in their final group game.
Experienced pair Imogen Bankier and Robert Blair had given Scotland a flying start with a 2-0 success over Oliver and Susannah Leydon-Davis by 21-8 and 21-10 and Glaswegian Kieran Merrilees then followed that up with an individual 2-0 win over Joe Wu against a New Zealand side seeded sixth. Scotland are ranked fifth.
Kirsty Gilmour had to work really hard to dig out a 2-0 success against belligerent Kiwi, Michelle Chan.
With the overall success already secure, Blair and Paul van Rietvelde then wrapped up another 2-0 victory over Oliver Leydon-Davis and Kevin Dennerly-Minturn.
And, finally, Gilmour and Bankier were far too strong for the out-classed Anna Rankin and Madeleine Stapleton for an overall 5-0 score-line for Scotland – for the third time in the group.
Gilmour said, “I lost my voice shouting for the guys in the opening two matches and then the second game against Michelle was pretty tight (23-21).I knew what I wanted to do but at times I didn’t quite execute it the right way. I’ve learned a lot from that one.
“We’re not resting on our laurels in any way and we know now we need to step up a level in the quarter-finals. We will face a higher ranked opponent but we’ve all had individual success against some of the players from the other teams, so we won’t fear anyone.
“The atmosphere in the Emirates was amazing but I still feel it can be even louder! That’s the group games taken care of for the Mixed Team Event so I expect it will rise a notch or two in the knockouts.”
For Blair, 33, competing for Scotland in Scotland at the Commonwealth Games is a slightly novel experience after featuring for England in Manchester and Melbourne, where he picked up Bronze and Silver medals.
“It feels good playing for Scotland here, said the Edinburgh-born player who is based in Longniddry.
“It is still the same badminton tournament, with the same nations, as I am used to for a Commonwealth Games. But there’s a strong sense of pride for me this time – this is my country.
“I am one of the more experienced ones now in the squad so you just try and play your best and see if they can take encouragement from that. It is exciting for Team Scotland as a whole and we saw Hannah Miley come back into the Village late on Thursday night. It is a massive lift for everyone when you see athletes with medals and the feel-good factor spreads.”
Their three impressive 5-0 successes in Group C against the Seychelles, Guernsey and New Zealand take the Scots into the last eight – and a Saturday evening quarter-final at the Emirates.