Kirsty Gilmour produced a winning Olympic debut with a 21-17 21-15 victory over Switzerland’s Sabrina Jaquet in her opening Group D match in Rio last night.
The Commonwealth Games and European silver medallist from Bothwell was one of two GB winners on day one of the badminton competition with men’s singles star Rajiv Ouseph providing the other victory by beating Czech player Petr Koukal 21-14 21-18.
Gilmour’s match was one of the last on the day’s schedule while Ouseph was also in action late in the evening session - and the two singles players produced Team GB’s first wins after there was disappointment for the three GB doubles pairs, who lost their difficult opening contests.
Gilmour began well against Jaquet, dictating the opening exchanges before her Swiss opponent hit back to lead 9-8 and extend her mid-game interval advantage of 11-10 to 13-11. But a four-point surge put Gilmour back in front at 15-13 and she led by four points at 18-14. Jaquet remained in touch at 18-17 before the 22-year-old from Bellshill took the opener with three points in a row.
Gilmour, following in the footsteps of Anne Gibson (Atlanta) and Susan Egelstaff (London) as Scots representing Team GB in women’s singles at the Olympics, had to work hard in the second game as Jaquet opened a 6-3 lead. Although the only Scot in the eight-strong GB squad hit back to lead 9-8 it was Jaquet who was in front again at the interval 11-9.
But Gilmour then made the decisive moves, drawing level at 12-12 before reeling off five points in a row to move from 14-14 to the brink of victory at 19-14 then clinching the contest on her first match point.
After her 45-minute victory 11th seed Gilmour said: “It’s been way longer than normal before a tournament. We’ve had eight days of waiting for this. And I’ve been stewing all day waiting while everyone else has been playing.
“So it’s nice to get that one under the belt and I’ve got two days to rest now.
“This season I’ve played a lot of evening matches so I’m used to playing late. I tried not to watch sport all day, which was quite an important one for me.
“I was a little nervous. I had some strategies for the first few points to get a rhythm and get settled on court.
“I would be content with living up to my seeding here. That will be my aim, to get through the group stage, and then go all out in the last 16 should I get there.”
Gilmour, who has now won her last four meetings with Jaquet, now faces Bulgaria’s Linda Zetchiri on Sunday night. She goes into that contest knowing that a win will see her finish top of Group D and secure her that place in the last 16 where she would expect to meet Korean seventh seed Sung Ji Hyun, who plays her first Group C contest today.
The same applies to Ouseph, who can clinch his place in the knockout rounds if he defeats Japan’s Sho Sasaki.
In the mixed doubles Chris and Gabby Adcock had a tough start against China’s Xu Chen and Ma Jin, losing 13-21 22-20 21-15 despite holding a match point in the second game.
Men’s doubles hopes Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge fell to Denmark’s Carsten Mogensen and Mathias Boe 21-9 9-21 21-16 while Heather Olver and Lauren Smith were beaten by Commonwealth champions Vivian Kah Mun Hoo and Khe Wei Woon 21-17 24-22.
All three GB doubles pairs are in action again today and tomorrow.