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Paris on my mind

A strong mindset has played a key role in Kirsty Gilmour's impressive run of form ahead of Paris 2024

Kirsty Gilmour is hitting form at just the right time for as she gears up for Paris 2024, and she is enlisting expert help from the sportscotland institute of sport to keep her mind right ahead of her third Olympic Games.

The Bellshill-born player won a silver medal at the European Championships in Saarbrucken, Germany in April. Under the guidance of Badminton Scotland Head Coach, Ingo Kindervater, it was Gilmour’s fifth European medal and a timely boost to her world ranking as she aims to be a seed in Paris. It comes on the back of a bronze medal as captain of the Scottish Women’s Team at European Team Championships in Poland.

Her place at the Games is all but secured, but a top 16 position in the field would give her a seeding and mean she’d avoid the world’s best in the early rounds.


Kirsty will be approaching 31 when the Olympics comes around, 30 is a landmark she admits might’ve brought about thoughts of retirement in a career plan she mapped out when she was younger. But she maintains an incredible love for her sport and for competing. A laser focus has helped ensure she remains one of the world’s best player, that mindset has been aided by Misha Botting, Performance Psychology Manager for the sportscotland institute of sport.

The two-time Commonwealth Games medalist says that working with Misha has helped her maintain high levels of performance, while also boosting her mental wellbeing away from the court.

She said: “I think mental health has probably taken a step up my priority list each year of my career. The longer I play the higher a priority it becomes for me. It can potentially be more detrimental to a career than a physical injury.

“It’s something that effects everything, not just on the court but your relationships and your personal life. A physical injury can stop you on court, but poor mental health can stop a whole lot of other things.

“I think working with Misha has been one of the most important parts of my development in the last two years. For my mental health generally but also for my on-court play.

"It might seem silly to some people that talking could make you better at playing a sport but it really does. Any time we chat it is driven by me, he doesn’t prescribe what we discuss. He gives you the space to explain yourself but also challenges you

“At the top level, to me, it’s a lot about how you frame things and how you feel in certain situations. Not necessarily your technical abilities. Misha is very good at asking really challenging questions that bring us to some points and areas that I wouldn’t have thought about, it’s generally put me in a much better head space to compete. It just feel like such a safe space to say whatever I feel, whether that’s on court stuff or off court stuff. It’s been super important to me.

Misha added: “Kirsty is one of the most rewarding athletes I have ever worked with. We have regular meetings when she’s in Scotland. As a result of our conversations, Kirsty started trusting herself more to play more intuitively. She now does not get angry at herself during matches, but practices to let go of hard feelings and focus on the next point.

“One of the basic psychological skills Kirsty mastered over many years is to constantly focus on the present moment in the match. My job was to show her that she can be in charge of her thinking and her emotions.

"She practices returning her attention to the present moment in a match without dwelling, looking at the scoreboard or taking successes and setbacks personally.

“It is hard road, but Kirsty is not someone who gives up easily.”

Kirsty is also being helped in her preparation for Paris by a full team of sportscotland institute of sport experts who work with her on physical preparation, physiotherapy, physiology and nutrition. As well as a full-time support package from Badminton Scotland which includes a centralised full-time training and coaching programme, travel support and match analysis.

And she insists she is in a good place as she readies herself for another outing for Team GB.

She added: “I think if I was asked at the start of my career, at 17 or 18, I would’ve been happy to compete at one Olympics. To get Rio and Tokyo, I would be very happy with but to have another one so close to home, is really special. I never really planned to compete at three Olympics but now we’re here it’s eyes set and tunnel vision.

“I’m really excited. Each Olympics has such a different feel. Rio was wild and it felt like it just flew past me. Tokyo was a bit different, it felt a bit more serious and more structured with restrictions in place. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the atmosphere is like in Paris.”

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