The situation kept threatening to get under Kirsty Gilmour’s skin. Moisture on the court, with an official’s order to dry the damp off herself. Game delays from an opponent so injured that the Scot had wondered if she would even show up, writes Mark Woods.
Yet, there was badminton bronze to play for in Gold Coast and the 24-year-old had no option but to block out the noise.
With cool heads required, she maintained an ice-cold resolve, avenging her loss from the Commonwealth Games final of Glasgow 2014 to Michelle Li with a 21-11, 21-16 victory over the Canadian in just 46 minutes.
Li, hindered by an apparent calf injury, was not the same foe who had been hitherto unbeaten against the Scot. That offered challenges of its own for Gilmour, who had her sports psychologist, Simon Petrie, standing about a metre away during the warm-up lest the will-or-won’t-she-play melodrama disrupted her calm.
By its end, simply, there was “overwhelming happiness and relief,” she admitted. No walkover, no stroll in the park here or through a tournament of emotional ebbs and flows which included her earlier semi-final loss to India’s former world champion Saina Nehwal.
“The last Commonwealth Games, I just went in – not full of naivety but I was happy to be seeded two,” Gilmour added. “I don’t remember analysing it as much as I did this time.
“Here, there was a lot of planning and preparation and stress beforehand because the top four seeds are capable of beating anyone on any given day. So it was a matter of who turns up.
“This was difficult. I didn’t get a quarter-final when my opponent pulled out and then I had to fight so hard in my semi-final. I’ve never been in a position before that I had to stop and go again. I didn’t know if Michelle was going to play after she got injured in her semi-final. There was a lot going on in my head and it was a big challenge but it’s brilliant to be standing now.”
England’s European champion Rajiv Ouseph took men’s singles bronze by beating India’s HS Prannoy 21-17, 23-25, 21-9.
Elsewhere at the Games, Scotland’s Neah Evans was eighth in cycling’s women’s road time trial with Australia’s Chloe Hosking winning while Mark Stewart was the leading Scot in the men’s in 17th with another Aussie, Steele von Hoff, victorious.
The fairytale winning run of Scotland’s basketball team came to a shuddering halt against the might of Australia as they lost heavily in the semi-finals.
The red-hot favourite Aussies strolled to a crushing 103-46 win with the Scots due to face Canada, who lost to New Zealand, for the bronze medal.
Ali Fraser and Fraser Malcolm top scored for the Scots with nine apiece.
In squash, the Scottish men’s pair of Alan Clyne and Greg Lobban lost their doubles semi-final 2-0 to Australian duo Zac Alexander and David Palmer.
Scotland’s rugby sevens team started with a 27-0 win over Papua New Guinea thanks to two tries from Jamie Farndale and one apiece from George Horne, Darcy Graham and James Fleming.
They followed that up with an even more comfortable 41-0 thrashing of Malaysia, with Farndale again bagging a double. Horne also notched a brace, with Graham, Robbie Fergusson and Max McFarland also on the scoresheet.
But in their final Pool A crunch match, Scotland went down 5-26 to defending champions South Africa, which put the Scots out of the medal hunt.