Badminton: Merrilees turn on style in last game to retain Scottish title

Kieran Merrilees eventually overcame Dunfermline’s Gordon Hoggan and staged a successful defence of the men’s singles at the Yonex Scottish National Championships at Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth yesterday.

The Glasgow 22-year-old sneaked the opening game, lost the second but was a class apart in the third before running out a 21-17 15-21 21-2 victor.

In the women’s final, Bothwell’s Kirsty Gilmour claimed her first national title with a 21-7 21-18 win over the luckless Linda Sloan. It was the fourth year in a row that the Glasgow 22-year-old had finished singles runner-up and, just an hour or so earlier, she had also lost in the final of the women’s doubles.

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Afterwards, Merrilees, who had trailed 13-16 in the opening game, admitted he had been a little fortunate to repeat last year’s final win over Hoggan. “I was lucky to win the first game and then completely switched off in the second,” he confessed. “It was only in the decider that I got out of neutral gear. “But in the third I really did feel I played to the top of my game.

For Gilmour, it could be the first of many singles triumphs – although it should be pointed out that six times champion Susan Egelstaff was missing as she concentrates on her Olympic bid.

In the semi-finals, the University of West of Scotland student easily beat four time winner Rita Yuan Gao 21-12 21-8 and she always looked in charge in the final.

“I felt I played really well today and I couldn’t be more pleased” she said.

Imogen Bankier, who hopes to qualify with Chris Adcock in the mixed doubles for the London Olympics, completed a great double.

The Glasgow player won the mixed with Renfrew’s Watson Briggs for a fifth time and joined Edinburgh’s Jillie Cooper in a repeat of their 2009 triumph in the women’s doubles.

Briggs also won the men’s doubles with Paul Van Rietvelde, defeating defending champions Jamie Neill and Keith Turnbull 21-18 21-14.

Another worthy winner yesterday was one of Scottish badminton’s loyal servants, Douglas Walker, who received the Derrick Roarty Award for services to the sport.