Glasgow 2014: Imogen Bankier on badminton
IF 2012 was full of drama – from injury to a bad-tempered Twitter spat with a team-mate, a row about badminton’s governing body’s bid to enforce short skirts, and a hugely disappointing first-round exit at the London Olympics – then 2013 finds world championship silver medallist Imogen Bankier in a period of relative calm.
The reason is her brave decision to undock from Team GB’s Milton Keynes mothership and move back to her home city of Glasgow to train at Scotstoun. That has had serious ramifications but Bankier firmly believes it will serve her well at next year’s Commonwealth Games.
She said: “I had six good years down there in the Team GB system, and it was a really tough decision to leave, but I didn’t believe in the GB plan for Rio and I didn’t believe it would help me when it came to the Commonwealth Games, so I didn’t feel I had any choice. I was making huge sacrifices to be in Milton Keynes and it was at the expense of my happiness, which is fine if you’re on the right track track, but I wasn’t.”
Team GB’s plan had Bankier only competing in the mixed doubles and not the women’s doubles at all. Now supported by Sportscotland, she will compete in both events next year. A decision on whether she teams up with Jillie Cooper, Kirsty Gilmour or Caitlin Pringle in the women’s doubles is imminent, while it’s virtually a done deal that she will rekindle her partnership with former doubles sidekick Robert Blair, now that he has forsaken England to compete for the country of his birth. It will then be a question of playing enough tournaments to make it into the world’s top 50, which is the Commonwealth Games qualifying standard, starting with the badminton world championships in China next month.
“It’s a sad state of affairs that politics have played such a central part in my career but all UK Sport’s targets are based on the worlds and Olympics, with very little focus on the Commonwealth Games. But for me to play at a Games in my home city was such a big deal that it had to come first. Now everything’s geared around making sure I do myself and my country proud.”