Badminton: Alan Oliver achieves world No 1 ranking

ANDY Murray may still be chasing that world No 1 tag, but Scottish racket sports are celebrating this month after Alan Oliver reached badminton’s world summit.

The 26-year-old has been one of Scotland’s leading performers in disability sport over the last few years and this week claimed the Spanish Para-Badminton International SL3 men’s singles crown for a second time and won silver in the men’s doubles with Dalkeith player Colin Leslie, to become world No 1 in the SL3 category.

Oliver, who is originally from Alloa and currently works as the Borders Disability Sports Officer, has cerebral palsy which affects his right side, but he played able-bodied football before being persuaded to switch to disability sport.

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In Alicante, the world silver medallist came through an all-Scottish top half of the SL3 Men’s Singles draw, beating Niall Jarvie from Crieff in the semi-finals 21-15, 21-12, before seeing off Spain’s Simon Cruz 21-11, 21-15 in the final.

In the men’s doubles, Oliver teamed up with Leslie in their first international event together and defeated partnerships from France and England on the way to the decider where the Scottish duo just pipped Cruz and Yusuke Yamaguchi (Japan) 23-21, 24-22.

Oliver said: “Winning my fourth international title is an amazing feeling. When you go into any competition as top seed, there is added pressure as all the other competitors see you as the player to beat, and it’s so rewarding when you live up to your seeding.

“I have never been in a doubles final so intense, and the margin for error was so small that both games could have gone either way.

“Becoming number one in the world in my SL3 category is overwhelming. It still hasn’t sunk in yet. This achievement I would put down to years of dedication, travelling far afield to attend training sessions and having inspirational coaches. The next big challenge is the world championships in November this year.”