Olympics over for Bothwell badminton star Kirsty Gilmour

Bothwell badminton star Kirsty Gilmour’s hopes of a medal at Tokyo 2020 were snuffed out by fourth seed Akane Yamaguchi in her second group match.

Kirsty Gilmour playing Akane Yamaguchi of Team Japan during a women’s singles group L match on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza in Chofu yesterday (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

That knockout blow was the 27-year-old’s second Olympic Games group-stage exit in a row after the same fate befell her in Brazil five years ago.

Japan’s Yamaguchi, 24, had looked to be a formidable opponent, having won a bronze medal at the sport’s world championships in 2018, and that’s how it turned out as she beat the Team GB contender 21-9, 21-18 yesterday, July 28.

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Gilmour made a promising start, racing into a 4-0 lead in their first game at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza and putting up a solid defence to keep the second in the balance, but Yamaguchi got the better of her in the end.

Gilmour, ranked 26th in the world, had set up that match by beating Pakistan’s Mahoor Shahzad 21-14, 21-14 in her first outing the day before, but second place in group L wasn’t enough to allow her to progress to the elimination rounds.

Gilmour believes there are positives to take from her time in Tokyo, though, saying of Yamaguchi: “Her retrieving, it’s what all the Japanese players are known for, and I was ready for that.

“I think I coped pretty well, but I’m perhaps just out of match practice in the past few weeks.

“My intentions, my intensity and my focus is always the same. There’s the same effort going into it, so to be rewarded with the points in the second game is good, but I don’t think I played badly in the first game.

“She’s a very, very solid opponent and has built her career on that.

“It’s very difficult to get winning shots out of her and to force errors from her. I feel I managed that pretty well in the second game.”

She’s also happy just to have made it to Japan, having had to bounce back from a foot injury in December last year to earn her Team GB place. That injury left her on crutches, but she made a good recovery and said she felt she was in the best form of her career going into the games.

That defeat spells the end of Gilmour’s games as she’s not competing at doubles as well.