All-England Badminton: Blair is last Scot standing

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SCOTLAND’S Robert Blair is delighted to fight another day after becoming Scotland’s sole representative left at the Yonex All England Badminton Championships.

Blair and Malaysian playing partner Bin Shen Tan won 17-21, 21-19 21-15 against Indonesian pair Alvent Yulianto Chandra and Markis Kido in a thrilling three-set encounter in Birmingham but Blair admitted he was starting to feel all of his 31 years in what proved to be a hugely-satisfying win.

“Hopefully we can perform like that again and get another win,” said Blair. “I don’t even know who were playing – that’s a first. It was very nice – we’re all a bit older so it wasn’t as fast as we’d like it to be. But they’ve been very good players for the last ten to 15 years, so to beat them is very satisfying.” Meanwhile, Imogen Bankier is confident she can forge a successful future with Bulgarian women’s doubles partner Petya Nedelcheva despite exiting the All England event. The 25-year-old Glaswegian and Nedelcheva were beaten by South Korean seventh-seeds Kyung Eun Jung and Ha Na Kim 14-21, 21-18, 21-15.

Bankier, a London 2012 Olympian believes that she and Nedelcheva can quickly shoot up the rankings despite spending much of their training time apart.

“Our goal is to compete at the World Championships and medal at the European Championships,” said Bankier. “We’ve got to play a few more tournaments to get our rankings up for the worlds and, after that, we’re targeting to be one of the top pairs in Europe. The training issue is just one of those things. Petya comes over to Scotland sometimes and trains with us, and we try and do what we can at tournaments together. We’ll have to get by, but I’m confident that we’ll climb up the rankings.”

l Experience it yourself with tickets for the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships available at www.allenglandbadminton.com or call the box office on 0844 444 9994