Badminton Life

Yuan Gao Shows Her Class Yet Again

After coming back from international retirement earlier this year to power Scotland to a great Uber Cup tournament, the renaissance of Rita Yuan Gao continues apace with the latest badminton triumph for the Scottish national team.

Trailing 2-0 down against Bulgaria things looked extremely bleak for the team but this is a squad that doesn't take defeat too lightly. The Scots had already played in the morning as they triumphed 3-0 over Sweden and although that may have been confident filling, it my have exhausted the team. Certainly, fatigue looked to be a factor as the Scots lost in the Mixed Doubles and the Men's Singles.

Imogen Bankier and Watson Briggs were up first and were riding high on a good run in the tournament where they had triumphed in 3 of their 4 contests but lost in this match. Stilian Makarski and his partner Diana Dimova were the victors by 21-18, 21-15. This disappointing loss was followed up by Craig Goddard's defeat to Blagovest Kisyov. A three game match indicates a level of closeness but each game had a clear winner as the 21-12, 13-21, 21-12 score suggests. At 2-0 up, the Bulgarians required just one victory to seal the match-up but this proved easier said than done.

Susan Hughes showed the skills that clinched a Commonwealth bronze medal and a quick 21-15, 21-18 victory put Scotland back into contention in the match. Bulgaria still held the upper hand in the tie but the nerves were definitely starting to build. This came to the fore in the Men's Double's tie which ran to three matches.

The match was notable for being David Gilmour's 50th cap for his country and he and partner Andrew Bowman got off to a great start by winning the first game 21-16. The Bulgarian duo roared back in the second set to win 21-19 and prevented their team from throwing away a 2-0 lead without a fight. In the third and final set, Bulgaria were 15-12 up and looking as though they would win the match but tables were turned with Bowman and Gilmour running out 21-18 to tie the match-up at 2-2.

The Ladies Doubles match was supposed to feature Emma Mason and Imogen Bankier but Mason pulled out through injury, leaving Yuan Gao to step in and prove that experience is always capable of winning the day. Bankier and Yuan Gao quickly set about May Dobreva and Atanaska Spasova to win 21-19, 21-16 and seal an unlikely victory for the Scottish team.

Given they had already played that morning and were facing defeat square in the face after dropping the first two matches, this was another result to be savored by the Scottish badminton team. There is still a lot of badminton to be played in 2008 but it has been a great year for the Scottish team and hopes are definitely high for the forthcoming summer events.

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