Jan 22 2013 by Gordon Bannerman, Perthshire Advertiser
Watson Briggs and former world silver medallist Imogen Bankier will be aiming to defend their national mixed doubles title at the Yonex Scottish National Championships from February 1-3 at Perth’s Bell’s Sport Centre.
Renfrew’s Briggs and Glasgow’s Bankier have won the title together five times but they will have their work cut out for them this year as another former world silver medallist, Glasgow’s Robert Blair, will partner Edinburgh’s Jillie Cooper in the mixed.
Blair is playing in his first senior Scottish National Championships since his repatriation to his home country and will be keen to get his hands on the trophy, having never won a national title at senior level in Scotland. His last success at national level in Scotland came in 1999 when he won a treble of singles, men’s doubles and mixed at Under 19 level.
Also in the mixed doubles line-up is current men’s doubles champion Paul van Rietvelde (Longniddry), who partners women’s singles champion Kirsty Gilmour, and the strength in depth in mixed bodes well for Scotland with the 2014 Commonwealth Games now firmly on the horizon.
Blair also tackles the men’s doubles with former singles champion Gordon Thomson (Glasgow) in what will be another tightly contested event.
Reigning champions Briggs and van Rietvelde will be aiming to defend the title they won together for the first time last year, while 2010 and 2011 champions Jamie Neill (Hamilton) and Keith Turnbull (Larkhall) will also provide stiff opposition.
In the men’s singles reigning champion Kieran Merrilees (Glasgow) will be defending the title he has won for the last two years in a line-up which includes two other former champions: Calum Menzies (Falkirk) and Craig Goddard (East Kilbride).
Bothwell’s Kirsty Gilmour will be favourite to retain her women’s singles crown, with former singles and doubles champion Rita Yuan Gao, who now coaches in Switzerland, once again returning to Scotland to compete.
Gilmour will also tackle the women’s doubles with Cooper, who is aiming to win the title for the third time in a row with as many partners, having won in 2011 with Emma Mason and last year with Bankier. Cooper also won the title in 2009 with Bankier.
Badmintonscotland chief executive Anne Smillie said: “We have had a great entry to the Yonex Scottish National Championships this year. With two former world silver medallists in the draw, the strength in depth we have at the moment, particularly in mixed doubles, is really encouraging with a view to our squad for Glasgow 2014.
“I’m looking forward to watching some fantastic matches at Bell’s Sports Centre and I would encourage everyone to come along to watch the action.”
The seedings will be announced this week and will be available on Badmintonscotland’s website on Wednesday, January 30.
Tickets are available from Bell’s Sport Centre or www.badmintonscotland.org.uk.