Edinburgh’s Julie MacPherson surpassed all expectations as she delivered bronze for Scotland in the European Under-17 Badminton Championships in Turkey.
So much so, that Badminton Scotland had booked her flight home before the quarter-finals were even due to take place!
The Royal High pupil’s surprise progress at the biennial tournament in Ankara meant she ended up arriving back on home soil two days after the rest of her team-mates.
Julie competed in the team event and both the women’s doubles and singles, and she felt she rose to the occasion, particularly in the individual event.
“I think I played some of the best badminton I’ve ever played,” the 16-year-old said. “I didn’t play as well in the semi but the last 16 and quarter-final rounds were really good. I didn’t expect that going into the tournament, especially as I was unseeded and had to beat three seeds on the way.
“Badminton Scotland didn’t expect anyone to get through as they had booked the flights home for the Saturday, but the quarter-finals weren’t until the Saturday so as the rest of the team went home, I had to stay on with another coach.
“I think the furthest anyone else got from Scotland was the last 16. The medal ceremony wasn’t until the Sunday and I didn’t want to miss that so I didn’t get home until the Monday. It was quite a hassle trying to change the flights but it was worth it in the end.”
Disposing of the ninth, fifth and third seeds en route to the penultimate stage of the competition was a triumph in itself considering the calibre of opposition standing in her way. After her exceptional exploits in Turkey, however, she was brought back down to earth when she returned to Edinburgh and lost the final of the Junior Scottish Championships girls’ singles to top seed Holly Newall last weekend.
Gold in the women’s doubles with partner Sarah Findlay, though, ensured all was not lost at Meadowbank in what has been a demanding couple of weeks for the teenager.
Julie said: “I certainly did not play as well as I played over in Turkey. I think I peaked over there and had a bit of a comedown to be honest.
“I’d much rather have the European bronze, though,because the nationals come every year. I’ve only got one competition left for the rest of the season which is during the Easter holidays where I’m going to Denmark to compete in the Aros Cup. It’s a really high standard so I’ll try to do as well as I can. I think they know who I am over there now because I knocked out the third seed in Turkey who was Danish!”
Julie will be keeping a close eye on the individuals set to lead the Scottish pursuit of gold at this summer’s Commonwealth Games as she will be in the crowd at the Emirates Arena where the badminton is being held.
With the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia, a realistic target for Julie, who will be 20 by then, attending this summer’s Games provides an opportunity to weigh up some of the prospective opposition and get a feel for such a big event.
She said: “That is certainly the aim (competing for Scotland in the 2018 Commonwealth Games) because a few of the top Scottish players are planning to retire after Glasgow so there would be some space available. I’ve got tickets for the badminton this summer so I’m looking forward to it.”