“As I write, I am sitting in a small cafe in Glasgow. There’s an old couple at the corner table, a group of students to my left, and two women by the counter picking up flat whites, both red-faced after a run – all while the sun streams in the window and chatter intertwines with the music over the speakers. This is why I love Glasgow. It has everything. The old and the new mixed with art and sport. Sometimes it even has sunshine.
So when it was announced that the TOTAL BWF Badminton World Championships, one of the biggest events in my sport, was going to be held right here in my home city I couldn’t have been happier. My two favourite things coming together!
I count myself doubly lucky as this isn’t the first time that something like this has happened. The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games gave me the chance to compete in the Emirates arena, in front of a crowd that was entirely on my side. I can’t stress enough how overwhelming it is to walk out onto a badminton court in front of 5000 people (save for a few Canadians) shouting your name. And then to block it out and do the job you have trained for the past 17 years. It’s a feeling that will never leave me and it’s a feeling I will get to experience again this summer.
Anyone lucky enough to get tickets to this year’s World Championships is in for some unbelievable action. Badminton is best enjoyed in the flesh – there is no other way to fully appreciate the speed, power, agility and skill of the players. The nature of badminton is such that it evolves quickly, both during a match and year by year. One minute things could be neck and neck then suddenly a three-point gap opens up. Similarly, a few years ago it was all about power, however now players’ defences are so good that endurance is becoming paramount to success. That’s why I love badminton. It has everything; agility and endurance mixed with power and holding your nerve.
From my personal perspective this is especially true of the women’s game. A few years ago, she who had the biggest smash would be victorious. Not so anymore. I don’t know a single female who doesn’t regularly train against males. Therefore, we adapt and improve. So when it comes to retrieving power shots, we can deal with whatever is thrown at us. We are now arriving in an era where endurance and fine skills will set players apart. This is a unique and exciting element to the sport.
From a more general perspective of being a female in the sport, I have seen a change too. The spread of top players across the nations has broadened hugely. Where China used to monopolise the top three world ranking spots in Ladies Singles, three separate nations now feature. And in their respective countries, each woman is, rightly so, held in extremely high regard. The women’s game is repeated just as much as the men’s as far as I can see, and there is a mutual respect between the players. And with regard to prize money, we all play the same amount of points so we all earn the same. Imagine that!
I think I’ve blethered on about Glasgow and badminton quite enough for now. Long story short: the World Championships being in Glasgow is, without a shadow of a doubt, going to be amazing and you’d be a fool to miss it.”
The TOTAL BWF Badminton World Championships comes to Emirates Arena Glasgow, 21-27 August. Find out more: www.glasgow2017.com
Kirsty Gilmour, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine