£750,000 Grand Prix boost for Scottish International
BADMINTONscotland and the City of Glasgow are celebrating today after confirmation from the Badminton World Federation that the Scottish Open Championships has won Grand Prix status. The decision is a marvellous boost and will come into force at the Scottish Open Championships at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena from 20-24 November 2013.
“It is perfect timing,” said BADMINTONscotland Chief Executive Anne Smillie, “as it comes less than a year before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
“It guarantees a higher standard of entry for the third oldest tournament in world badminton, especially thanks to a significant increase in prize money.
“Our aim is to restore the standard of entry to the world-class level it used to attract. We want to offer badminton fans the chance to see world-class players from all over the globe. Just as important, the enhanced quality of entry will give us the chance to attract new fans to badminton and to our great Championships.
“We particularly want to encourage players from the Commonwealth nations to take part this November as it will be a chance for Asian countries like Malaysia, India and Singapore to play in the Emirates Arena before the Commonwealth Games in July next year. We also want to see players from Canada, Australia and New Zealand taking part.
“We are working hard at attracting a truly world-class entry as well as the television coverage we need to reach a wider audience.
“I know that all the players competing at last year’s Scottish Open were very impressed with the new Arena and its facilities and Glasgow can be rightly proud of the venue. It is perfect for top-class badminton.
“It is also perfect for staging the Play badminton Carnivals which have become synonymous with our event, giving thousands of Scottish schoolchildren the opportunity to try out badminton for themselves and to watch top class athletes in action.
“But we have only been able to achieve this rise in status thanks to the incredible support of our funding partners. Together with Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life and Event Scotland, we have been able to put together a financial package worth £750,000 over the next four years.
“These are exciting times for badminton in Scotland with Kirsty Gilmour stepping up to the plate following Susan Egelstaff’s retirement and with 2011 world mixed doubles silver medallist Imogen Bankier and 2006 world men’s doubles silver medallist Robert Blair now based back in Scotland.
“These three players, along with players like former Commonwealth Youth Games bronze medallist Martin Campbell, will be key figures as we mould a team to mount a challenge at the Commonwealth Games and we aim to make home advantage at the Emirates Arena count.”
Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life and Executive Member for the Commonwealth Games said: “This is great news as we look ahead to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. We want to stage the very best events and the new Grand Prix certainly falls into that category. By attracting a better standard of player it will help our own players reach new heights and that is crucial as we look ahead to the Games.
“The Emirates Arena is already known as one of the world’s top sports venues and events such as the Grand Prix will allow us to build on that position. We are already looking forward to this year’s event which will give the people of Glasgow to chance to see a Commonwealth Games sport in action.”
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said: “The new Grand Prix status of badminton’s Scottish Open Championships is testament to the quality of the event and the aspirations for this year at the Emirates Arena. With some of the world’s top athletes competing, the international interest in this event will be greater than ever before, which will showcase Scotland’s credentials as a leading sporting events destination.
“Scotland is the perfect stage for events and with the Commonwealth Games on the horizon the timing of this change in status is particularly fitting. This is an exciting period for Scottish badminton and I am sure there will be a lot of interest in the Championships as players look to impress ahead of the Games.”
What the Players Say:
Imogen Bankier, the 2011 world mixed doubles silver medallist, said: “It’s marvellous to have such a world-class venue in Glasgow, not just for the Commonwealth Games but as the new home of the Scottish Open Championships. I am really looking forward to playing there for the first time, especially now the tournament has Grand Prix status.”
Robert Blair, the 2006 world men’s doubles silver medallist who won the Scottish International mixed doubles title with Bankier in 2007 and won with her at the French International at the end of March, said: “I played in last year’s Scottish International Championships and it was a great feeling to be appearing in the Commonwealth Games venue. I am sure the top players in the Commonwealth will enjoy playing there.”