Badminton ace Kirsty Gilmour could be forgiven for feeling the weight of expectation upon her shoulders with the Commonwealth Games around the corner.
The 19-year-old’s stock has risen as quickly as her world ranking after securing three senior titles in the space of eight wonderful weeks in 2012.
Now comfortably in the world’s top 50 in both singles and doubles, Gilmour is in pole position to pick up the singles mantle in Glasgow, with bronze medallist Susan Egelstaff electing to hang up her racket.
But the likeable teenager from Bothwell is a cool customer as she looks ahead to qualifying for what would be her second Commonwealth Games.
She said: “The past season has been my best yet and if I’m being honest, it’s been ridiculous. With Susan [Egelstaff] retiring, it has allowed me to get more one-on-one time with our coach Yvette [Yun Luo]. She is the smartest person I’ve ever met; she has so much knowledge and that’s helped me rise up the rankings.”
“Qualification is based on your ranking, so for me it’s a case of maintaining my form and maintaining my ranking. To do that I need to keep playing consistently well.”
Gilmour combines her sport with a Film Making and Screenwriting course at the University of the West of Scotland. She is hoping to make her second senior Commonwealth Games having been selected for Delhi as a precocious 17-year-old, an experience which whetted her appetite to make Team Scotland once again.
She added: “Delhi was the best two and a half weeks of my life. I was there to get some experience of being at a Commonwealth Games more than to win a medal. I set out to be on the court and to stay on it for as long as possible.”
“It’s great to be part of Team Scotland. This time it will be weird just moving out of my house and down the road to Glasgow, but I know quite a lot of the other athletes from crossing paths with them at the Emirates Arena.”
“It’s good to meet other athletes and together you feel like one massive team. You don’t just keep to your sport; if you see someone wearing a Scotland top at dinner you go and talk to them like you’re already best pals. It’s a unique experience.”
Gilmour collected a bronze medal at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games, a proud moment for her and her badminton-daft family, her uncle collecting a team bronze at Manchester 2002 whilst her dad coached emerging talent such as world mixed doubles silver medallist Imogen Bankier during his time with the national junior squads.
“My mum always gets quite annoyed that I don’t mention she won the U19 Scottish Schools Mixed Doubles too”, joked Gilmour. “Hopefully there will be lots of opportunities for my family and friends to come along to watch me in Glasgow as they don’t get a lot of chances to see me competing across the world”.
“To have a chance of competing in front of a home crowd, with friends and family cheering me on, would be just perfect.”
You can follow Kirsty on Twitter @KirstyGilmour
Photo Credit: Alistair Devine