Monday 24 July 2017
A London 2012 Olympian and 2007 Sudirman Cup player, Susan Egelstaff is no stranger to taking to the court on home soil.
And the former women’s singles star insists next month’s World Championships in Glasgow can be the start of a badminton revolution in Scotland, as the world’s best shuttlers come to town.
Five years ago, Egelstaff made history by becoming the first Scottish badminton player to win a match at an Olympic Games, but retired from the international stage later that year.
That meant she missed out on a home Commonwealth Games in 2014, an event that saw some sports, including badminton, gain new fans in their droves, delighted to be witnessing world-class sport right on their doorstep.
In exactly a month’s time, badminton is back on Scottish ground, as the likes of Lin Dan, Viktor Axelsen and P.V Sindhu join home favourite Kirsty Gilmour and the rest of the nine-strong Scotland squad bound for the Emirates Arena.
And while Egelstaff will be taking her seat in the stands this time round, also acting as an ambassador for the tournament, she insists a home World Championships is an opportunity Scotland’s stars of today must relish.
“I definitely believe that a major event can trigger an interest in a sport,” she said.
“Definitely something like the World Championships is a great opportunity to allow kids to see badminton. Hopefully there’s the setup in place they can take that interest on to the next level.
“It’s really exciting and off the back of the Commonwealth Games as well which was obviously such a big thing for Scotland. The Commonwealth Games opened a lot of peoples’ eyes to new sports.
“I think that’s why it’s so important to have more big tournaments in Scotland. This is the biggest badminton tournament other than the Olympics, and to have something so big will keep people interested and show how good badminton is.
“As a Scottish badminton player you don’t get the chance to play a major tournament at home very often. It’s great for the players to play in front of a home crowd, it gives their family and friends a chance to see them which is also rare.”
But while there appears not even a hint of sadness that she won’t be taking to the court herself, there is little denying Egelstaff’s enthusiasm to watch the greatest players in the world battle it out in her home town.
For her, two shuttlers in particular stand out, and she can’t wait to witness first-hand the development of the sport since she hung up her racket five years ago.
“I really like Carolina Marin, the Olympic women’s singles champion,” she said. “When she was very young I played her a couple of times and since then she has gone on and been the dominant player.
“I really like the way she plays it’s attacking and she’s good to watch.
“Lee Chong Wei is also great to watch, three Olympic silvers but he’s never been world champion.
“He can’t have many shots left so it would be really nice for a player like that who has been in the game so long to come through and win one of the big ones for the first time.
“As I have been retired there’s lot of young players I don’t know and I am looking forward to see how the game has changed.
“It will be nice because I have not seen that much badminton since I retired, so it will be good to see where the game has got to.”