SCOTTISH badminton was in celebratory mood yesterday when Susan Egelstaff and Imogen Bankier were named in Team GB for the London Olympics.
Egelstaff, the world No 34, lines up in the women’s singles while Bankier and England’s Chris Adcock, the world championship silver medallists, will be in the mixed doubles.
The fourth selection is England’s Rakiv Ouseph, who won the men’s singles at this season’s Scottish International Championship.
Badminton was added to the Olympic programme in 1992 and, until now, Anne Gibson (now Mrs Anne Robertson) was the only Scot to make Team GB. The Dumfries player competed in the singles in Atlanta in 1996.
“This time Scotland has 50 per cent of the team – in fact they both come from Glasgow – and that is a great credit to our players and coaches,” said Anne Smillie, the chief executive of Badmintonscotland.
For Egelstaff, the 2006 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, selection comes after an injury scare that threatened to ruin her Olympic dream. The 29-year-old had a knee operation in October, but battled back to fitness and held off the challenge from England’s Elizabeth Cann.
“I have been through every emotion and it has been such a tough campaign,” said Egelstaff during the announcement in London yesterday. “But now it is brilliant to have made the team.
“I’m so excited to be selected. This is the culmination of a really hard year of qualification and it’s great to be successful and be able to look forward to participating in the Games themselves. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m really looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd. It’s a privilege to be part of the team and I cannot wait for it to start.”
Bankier and Adcock came to the fore just 18 months ago when they won the Scottish International Championship at the Kelvin Hall. They rose rapidly up the rankings and reached a career high when they made it to the world championship final at Wembley last August.
“Getting the silver medal at the worlds was the big breakthrough,” admitted Bankier. “When we won in Glasgow back in 2012 we were only the third ranked pair in Britain.”
In the end, it was a straight fight between Bankier and Adcock and the all-English duo of 2004 Olympics silver medallist, and Nathan Robertson, and Jenny Wallwork.
They met three times this year, with Bankier and Adcock clinching selection with a victory in the quarter-finals of the European Championships in Sweden last month.
“The qualification period was very stressful and I’m just glad it’s over and we can now look forward to the Games,” said 24-year-old Bankier. “The crowd at Wembley was fantastic during the world championships and I’m sure it will be even better at the Olympics.
“We have worked really hard to acquire this opportunity and we intend not to waste it.”