Gilmour: Grit and Grace on the Road to Paris 2024

Gilmour: Grit and Grace on the Road to Paris 2024

Kirsty Gilmour, the tenacious Scot hailing from Bellshill, is gearing up for her third Olympic Games at Paris 2024. Gilmour, 30, has weathered injuries and setbacks, displaying remarkable resilience on her journey to securing a coveted spot in the upper echelons of world badminton.

Gilmour’s Olympic odyssey encountered a difficult chapter at the Rio 2016 Games, where she battled through a knee injury, making it a challenging Olympic campaign. She didn’t make it out of the group stage but acknowledged that she has emerged stronger from such hardships.

The road to Tokyo 2020 was not without its hurdles, as Gilmour grappled with injuries during the build-up. In the round-robin crucible in Tokyo, she won one but lost one match (to Akane Yamaguchi), thereby falling short of advancing beyond the group stage. Without a title since the SaarLouLux Open 2020 , the Scot is currently ranked No.25, but she will look to improve her position and guarantee herself of a qualifying spot for Paris 2024.

Gilmour lost 10 of her first round matches in 2023 but is determined for better results in 2024.

On losing several first-round matches in 2023

Reflecting on her recent performances, Gilmour acknowledges the strides she has made but remains hungry for more. “It’s a good step in the right direction, but not a big enough step,” she asserted, after her 7-21 21-16 26 -24 loss to Yamaguchi in the second round of the Hong Kong Open 2023. The bubbly Scot believes her unique style annoys opponents and sets her apart as a difficult player to face.

Working with Tine Baun

A pivotal shift in Gilmour’s Paris 2024 preparations is her collaboration with the three-time All England champion Tine Baun, who is the first female coach Gilmour has worked with during her senior playing career. The partnership, part of a Paris 2024 project, has injected a fresh dynamic into Gilmour’s training. “I’m really excited. It’s already such a nice partnership. I don’t have to use examples to help her understand. I tell her I feel like this, and she replies: ‘Me too, here’s what I did.’”

Gilmour expressed to BWF her fervent commitment to nurturing self-belief, a pivotal element she recognises as indispensable for success. Despite being one of the more seasoned players on the tour, she grapples with self-doubt, a hurdle she is determined to overcome. Her focus on aligning her physical prowess with mental fortitude showcases her holistic approach to the game.

“I want to instill a deep rooted self-belief that I can win these matches. That thought was floating around my head, which is something I think I’ve really struggled with,” she said three quarters into her 2023 season.

The Scot is aiming for a seeded spot at Paris 2024. Seen here at Tokyo 2020.

On the Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Looking ahead to this year’s summer Games, Gilmour is confident in her qualification prospects. She aims to secure a seeded position and not just qualification.

“Barring injury I will just be looking at being quite single-minded on getting a seeded spot. That’s where my thoughts lie. I was seeded at the Rio 2016 Games, but I had a torn cartilage in my knee. And I really couldn’t take advantage of that seeded position. I still think about that. In Tokyo, I wasn’t seeded and I came up against Yamaguchi in the group stage.”

The memory of missed opportunities fuels her determination to make the most of every chance in Paris.

“I feel like the rate at which I’m improving and changing things, I’m able to adapt. I’m really excited about Paris. I’m not stressed about and I’m choosing to look at it with excitement.”

Gilmour steps back into action at the PETRONAS Malaysia Open 2024, facing Neslihan Arin (née Yigit) in the opening round with the Scot leading the head-to-head 2-0.