Long before she became a world-class golfer and major champion, Catriona Matthew was a talented badminton player, good enough to represent Scotland at under-16 level.
So it was something of a walk down memory lane yesterday when our top woman golfer became the third top Scottish sports personality to be named as an ambassador for this summer’s Total BWF World Championships to be staged at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow in August.
Matthew, who will start her 2017 season in Australia next month, was at Meadowmill Sports Centre in Tranent yesterday, joining local children at Badminton Scotland’s latest Big Hit Festival.
Before going on court, the North Berwick 47-year-old admitted she was a little nervous. “I hope I can hit the shuttle,” she said. “It must be about 25 years since I played.”
She needn’t have worried. A talented all-rounder – during her schooldays she also represented Scotland at hockey – she was soon joining in the skills tests, and helping to motivate the next generation.
“Badminton was my main sport until I was about 16 or 17. Golf was just something I did in the summer,” she said. “It was when I won a Scottish Girls’ Championship that I realised I might be better at golf.
“I was the champion in golf but I was always about the last one to get into the Scottish badminton team. But it is a great sport. It keeps you super fit.”
Now mother of two girls – Katie, ten, and Sophie, seven – Matthew is delighted that they have tasted a huge variety of sports at North Berwick Primary School.
“Katie had a badminton session last year and she has also tried football, gymnastics, rugby, swimming and lots more. We encourage them to do as many sports as possible.
“It keeps them busy and healthy. If they try them all, then they can pick one they really like. But, nowadays, I sometimes think youngsters specialise too early.”
Matthew joins Scotland and Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon and Scotland and Glasgow Warriors rugby star Finn Russell, as ambassadors who are promoting the World Championships and Badminton Scotland’s Legacy programme in the build-up to the world’s best players appearing at the Emirates Arena from 21-27 August.
“I think it is great that the World Championships are coming to Glasgow,” Matthew said. “We have a lot of very good players such as Kirsty Gilmour. It’s a sport that I still keep up an interest and I often watch it on TV.”