Interview with Lanark badminton legend John Barrie MBE

As the Queen's Commonwealth baton travels ever closer to Glasgow, one former badminton star who will carry it on its journey has backed Team Scotland's current shuttlecock stars ahead of Glasgow 2014.

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Lanark badminton legend John Barrie MBE says the players who will vie for medals in their home games are more than good enough to claim a haul of medals, and even backed Kirsty Gilmour to go all the way and win gold in the Emirates Arena.

John, 80, who will carry the baton down Lanark Main Street on Sunday, June 22, says Gilmour, ranked 17 in the world, has the talent to beat the best the Commonwealth has to offer.

"She's training well and playing well. I'm nearly certain we will get at least a bronze medal in the singles from Kirsty."

Having followed Gilmour's career from her crowning as Lanarkshire junior champion at the age of nine to the present day, John is confident she can claim a first Scottish badminton gold medal since the last home Games, Edinburgh 1986, despite the threat from Chinese and Australian opposition.

"She's won plenty of singles titles on the European circuit, and beat the European champion Carolina Marin for the first time recently, so she must have a chance."

According to John, Gilmour could end the Commonwealth Games with more than just a singles medal to her name. He is also tipping her to perform strongly in the woman's doubles with Imogen Bankier, and make a big impact on badminton around the globe after Glasgow 2014.

"Every good player in the world wants to play on the Asian circuit, and I expect Kirsty to be on that stage next year. Playing the best in the world every week can only help her, and if she keeps injury free and mentally strong she'll be fine," he explained.

John has experience of a home Commonwealth Games in Scotland, having been part of the coaching team in the 1970 Games in Edinburgh, but says the standard of the Scotland squad for 2014 is far higher.

"In the team for Edinburgh we had Robert McCoig, who I rate as Scotland's all-time best badminton player, but the quality is definitely higher this time around.

"Our players can also use the home crowd to their advantage because the support in Edinburgh was great."

John, a former Badminton Scotland president, advised the squad to relish the experience of playing for Scotland, recalling his trips to Norway, Denmark and Sweden to pull on the blue jersey: "It feels brilliant to represent your country on the world stage."

The four-time capped Scotland international also revealed a training secret which is helping Team Scotland's men prepare for Glasgow 2014. "Badminton Scotland has brought in a pair of Indonesians to practise with the Scottish men's squad. They are speedy, strong and sharp, and playing with them in training will help our men at the Games," he said.

The six-time World Masters champion, who was Scotland's flag bearer at the 1989 event in Aalborg, Denmark, is clearly optimistic about Team Scotland's chances on the badminton court, and in our next blog we'll hear how he has high hopes for the future of Scottish badminton, at local, national and international level.

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