It was the best ever result by a Scottish singles player at the Games and the Bothwell 20-year-old was thrilled to make history. With the ceremony completed and the medal dangling round her neck, she said: “I’m trying to be disappointed but I’m just so delighted to be the first Scot to make a singles final.
“Michelle played fantastically well and maybe I’ll beat her on another occasion. But not today, she was just too good. I tried my best but I just didn’t have the answers.”
In Saturday’s semi-final against Malaysia’s Jing Yi Tee, Gilmour had pulled off a badminton miracle when she came from 11-19 down in the second game to clinch the match with a run of ten points in a row. She won 21-13, 21-19
“I gave so much yesterday to win those last ten points,” continued the No 2 seed, one above Li. “Today, my head couldn’t quite match my legs. But I’m so happy with my silver. It’s an incredible feeling.
“Eleven days ago I would have snapped up the offer of any colour. I was so close to gold but this is one better than bronze.
After Saturday’s heroics, Gilmour had done her best to switch off and concentrate fully on the final. “But I couldn’t resist looking at my phone,” she said. “There were so many messages – tweets, texts, facebook – and I am so grateful for all the support. I don’t know how I am going to reply to them all.
“To win a Commonwealth Games medal in Glasgow just feels so good. The crowd has been fantastic all week and I thank each and every one. To be able to play in front of family and friends is the best.”
Gilmour’s closest were in the crowd and there were ample hugs for Granny Ann, Mum Susan, sister Louise and Dad Brian, the person who first shoved a badminton racket into her hand when she was just four years old.
Brian, a physical education teacher, had never felt so proud. “But watching today is just the same as when she was six or seven and playing in the Lanarkshire Schools’ Championship,” he claimed. “No better and no worse. Just the same incredible nerves.”
The final never really went according to plan for the home favourite who had the support of many from Team Scotland whose Games were already over. She dropped the first three points and Li gained confidence and control.
When the Scottish champion fell 6-19 behind in the second, it did raise memories of the semi-final. But, if she had managed to win 15 points in a row to keep the match alive then, surely, the crowd would have suspected some dodgy dealings.
For Hong Kong-born Li it was a wonderful Games. “I played four years ago and this time my goal was definitely to medal at the Commonwealth Games,” said the 22-year-old world No 20. “The score today certainly didn’t reflect the match. It was the hardest I played all week.”
She was maybe just being polite because she had survived a thriller of a semi-final against the top seed, P V Sindhu, winning 22-20, 22-20. The Indian had to settle for bronze.
Gilmour now hopes to have a couple of days to celebrate, but won’t be going overboard. A student in film and scriptwriting at the West of Scotland University, she has to complete a documentary and assignment on the “Effect of the Independence Referendum on Sport” by 14 August. She failed to divulge her own opinion on the topic. Maybe for another day?
All she wanted to do yesterday was relax, show off her medal and party at the closing ceremony. She had gone to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi mainly for experience. Now she was one of the Scottish superstars and can claim to be Scotland’s best-ever singles player. At Melbourne in 2006, Susan Egelstaff claimed bronze. Dan Travers and Billy Gilliland – in the men’s doubles at Edinburgh 1986 – remain the only Scots to win a gold medal at a Commonwealth Games, but Gilmour, currently the world No 17, must already be eyeing the top of the podium come Gold Coast in 2018. Before then, there are the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I also hope the Games encourage more people to come along and watch badminton,” Gilmour continued. “We have the Scottish Open back here at The Emirates in November and if I have inspired a few people to take up the sport then I can’t ask for any more.”
For Badminton Scotland it was a total success story. The target coming into the Games had been to win one medal and Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier had already won a bronze medal in the mixed doubles on Saturday night. The crowd figure was also phenomenal, surpassing the 100,000 mark over the 11 days of the Games.
Hopefully, some will return for the Scottish Open at the same venue in November when Bankier and Blair defend the mixed doubles and Gilmour attempts to go one better than last year’s runner-up in the singles.
“Two medals for Scotland is great,” said Gilmour, who has a bronze in the locker from the 2011 Youth Commonwealth Games on the Isle of Man.
“Everyone is so happy.”