BOTHWELL teenager Kirsty Gilmour provided a glimpse of her increasing potential last week by reaching the womens final at the Belgian junior badminton international tournament – despite being unseeded.
The 15-year-old performed well above expectation at the tournament in Liege before being edged out by top seed Leanne Tan of Belgium, losing 21-15, 21-18.
Scotlands junior high-performance coach Diana Koleva was impressed by Kirstys showing and said: This was an excellent performance by Kirsty, especially when you consider she is still only 15 and this was her first European Junior Circuit under-19 event.
Kirsty, who has been named in Scotlands preliminary squad for the European Junior Championships in Italy this April, has several major events ahead of her this year.
The Scottish Institute of Sport student took part in the EBU Gold tournament in York on January 3 and 4, reaching the semi-finals. She will compete in the Yonex Scottish National Championships in Perth from January 30-February 1, playing at senior level.
Kirsty then has the Dutch Junior Open in February and the German Junior Open the following month.
Dad Brian (47) is happy to see Kirsty compete against some of the top junior players in Europe, and reckons she will soon be beating them.
He said: I was absolutely thrilled with Kirstys performance in Belgium. She was totally unseeded and although we expect her to do things like that it was a wonderful achievement to reach the final.
Kirsty felt that she was getting a bit stale over Christmas but she has really concentrated her effort and is right back on form.
Leanne Tan is an 18-year-old Belgian with international experience and to compete at that level was fantastic. To be competing against players like that shows that she is well ahead of the game, but she is working really hard and is getting some excellent coaching.
If the very best players get involved in the junior championships in Holland and Germany then Kirsty will struggle, particularly if the Danes or English compete, as they are the best in Europe but she will still compete and shes already beaten some of the best players in her age group.
With the amount of work Kirsty is putting in, the coaching she is getting and her natural ability, I have no doubt she will be beating these players within the next couple of years.