Four Edinburgh-born players – Robert Blair, Paul Van Rietvelde, Martin Campbell and Jillie Cooper – were named in Scotland’s badminton team for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.
At 32, Blair is the veteran of the team and will be a key factor. A member of the England team that won silver at the 2006 Melbourne Games, he returned to play for the side of his birth three years ago and will join Glasgow’s Imogen Bankier as a medal prospect in the mixed doubles.
“Glasgow is going to be great,” said Glasgow-based Blair, who won the mixed doubles with Bankier at last year’s Scottish Open at the Games venue of the Emirates Arena. “The Arena is a fantastic stage, and the home crowd is sure to spur us on.”
Cooper and Van Rietvelde have retained their places from New Delhi four years ago, while Campbell is the newcomer and will partner Kinross’s Patrick MacHugh in the men’s doubles.
Completing a ten-strong line-up are singles players Kieran Merrilees and Kirsty Gilmour and newcomers Rebekka Findlay and Caitlin Pringle.
Glasgow’s Pringle has a family affection for Commonwealth Games. Her father, Iain, played for Scotland in Edinburgh in 1986 when the Scottish team came close to a medal.
There are six Badminton gold medals to be won at Glasgow 2014 over 11 days of competition. Scotland will compete in the team event from July 24 and then the battle for the individual titles will run from July 29.
Scotland won a team bronze at the Manchester 2002 Games while Scotland’s last individual medal was also a bronze from Susan Egelstaff (nee Hughes) in the women’s singles at the Melbourne 2006 Games.
Scotland has enjoyed more recent team success, with eight of the ten players selected forming the highly successful side which won all four of their matches at the 2013 Sudirman Cup World Mixed Team Championships to win their group and finish in 13th place overall, while six players can call upon previous Commonwealth Games experience.
Scotland badminton squad:
Men’s: Robert Blair, Martin Campbell, Patrick MacHugh, Kieran Merrilees, Paul Van Rietvelde.
Women’s: Imogen Bankier, Kirsty Gilmour, Jillie Cooper, Caitlin Pringle, Rebekka Findlay.