Bothwell badminton ace Kirsty Gilmour says she’s in best shape of her career ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Olympic badminton ace Kirsty Gilmour is hoping the year’s hold-up forced on this summer’s Tokyo event by the coronavirus pandemic will work in her favour, having allowed extra time for preparation.

Kirsty Gilmour at a Tokyo 2020 Team GB kitting-out session in Birmingham (Photo by Karl Bridgeman/Getty Images for British Olympic Association)

The Bothwell 27-year-old, a Commonwealth Games silver and bronze medallist, will be the only Briton taking part in the women’s singles event at the Japanese Olympics, due to get under way on Friday, July 23.

It will be her second consecutive Olympics after being eliminated in the group stage of the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

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She’s part of a seven-strong British team announced last week, the others being Chloe Birch, Lauren Smith, Marcus Ellis, Toby Penty, Sean Vendy and Ben Lane.

“I'm super excited to be selected for my second games,” said Gilmour.

“It’s been a long time coming, with a challenging extra year to contend with, but I feel I’m in the best shape of my career.

“I think not only my previous Olympic experience but also my experience at Commonwealth and European games give me a wealth of knowledge to pull from.

“Every year that passes, I know myself better as an athlete, so I’m keen to have that shine through on court.”

Gilmour is also hoping her participation in the games will boost the profile of an initiative she helped launch earlier this year in an effort to encourage more people to take up badminton.

Called Badminton Academy Social Enterprise, Base for short, it’s a not-for-profit venture set up by Gilmour along with her uncle David Gilmour, chairman of Badminton Scotland, and Andy Gallagher.

“I think the attention competing at the Tokyo Olympics could bring to Base will be a nice by-product,” she said.

“I’m really passionate about the initiative and we’ve got a great team working on it.

“I have gained so much from my involvement with badminton and was always intending on giving back, but the pandemic has emphasised the struggles we are facing in society, so I thought this was the right time to try and create something that can help communities and the sport."