Iona, aged 9, aims to emulate Kirsty Gilmour

Young enthusiasts. left to right, Iona Muir, Lewis Smith and Finn Callister at the Emirates Arena. Picture: Lorraine Hill.

Young enthusiasts. left to right, Iona Muir, Lewis Smith and Finn Callister at the Emirates Arena. Picture: Lorraine Hill.

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School festivals are a long established part of the the Scottish Open Grand Prix and, this year, more than 700 pupils a day enjoyed a huge dollop of shuttlecock action at the 
Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

The daily events are for players of all ages and abilities, with the emphasis on fun. There is also the chance to catch a glimpse of the best in the world in action.

Iona Muir, from Arkleston Primary in Renfrewshire, is just nine, but she has certainly caught the badminton bug.

She has already been recognised as a talent in the making and recently won the singles and doubles at an age-group event in Yorkshire.

“I started hitting around with a racket when I was three and then started playing properly when I was six,” said the primary six pupil.

She now plays in the local junior leagues and is a member of the Renfrewshire Under-10 squad. In Scotland, she is already playing in Under-13 tournaments.

Kirsty Gilmour, who made her Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro and won a silver medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, is Iona’s perfect role model, and she was delighted to meet her hero at the Emirates.

“I got a selfie with Kirsty,” said the bubbly youngster. “Eventually I want to be the first in Scotland – just like her.

“At the moment, I am playing four or five days a week, and I want to go on to the Glasgow School of Sport.

“I also enjoy running. That will be my back-up sport. My dad is a a good runner.”

Scotstoun Junior Badminton Club won the Accredited Club of the Year at this month’s Glasgow Sports Council Awards, and a bunch of the club’s members were at the Emirates, including nine-year-old Finn Callister and eight-year-old Lewis Smith.

Finn attends St Helen’s Primary School and often goes in early to practise on the badminton court.

“We have 70 junior members at the club,” explained secretary John Craig. “We cover the whole of the west of Scotland and about 25 per cent are included in the Glasgow 
Performance squads.

“But we welcome everybody, no matter the standard. It’s all about the youngsters enjoying themselves playing 
badminton.”

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