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www.badmintonscotland.org.uk November 2013 11 GRAND PRIX


JOSH NEIL is only18 but he’s already going places. ELSPETH BURNSIDE reports on the young Scot’s hopes and dreams


I


N RECENT years, the sporting buzz has been ..all about London 2012 and Glasgow 2014. But


BRIGHT FUTURE Scotland’s head coach Yvette Yun Luo views


what happens thereafter? For Scottish badminton, Josh Neil is set to carry on the good work to- wards the next Commonwealth Games and fu- ture Olympics. The 18-year old from Prestwick had a great


start to the new season – winning a title double at the Scottish National Under 19 Championships and representing Scotland at theWorld Junior Championships in Bangkok. But perhaps best of all is his selection as one


of a few chosen recipients of a BADMINTON Europe scholarship – a new Future Stars scheme that has identified the continent’s rising talent. He is the only Scot on a list that also includes England’s RhysWalker and Ireland’s Jonathan Dolan. It is a three-year programme, although the


youngsters will be reassessed at the end of each season and so will have to step up to the mark. “It’s a new project and I am getting €1200 to


help in the transition from junior to senior badminton,” explained the Prestwick teenager. “It’s a great bonus and a real incentive.” Within the Scotland scene, Neil has long been


identified as a star in the making. A pupil at the Glasgow School of Sport at Bellahouston Academy, he won the UK School Games title three years ago and was one of a Scottish party of up and comers who enjoyed a trip to New Delhi to watch the action and soak up the atmosphere at the 2010 Commonwealth Games as part of the Achieve 2014 initiative. On leaving school, Neil spent six months in the


badminton haven of Sweden, but that learning curve was cut short due to knee problem. “It was a really good experience but it was


quite a bad injury,” he said. “So I came home and I’m now mixing badminton with a day release course in admin- istration and IT at Glasgow College.” At theWorld Junior Champion-


ships in Thailand, Neil was joined by another three hugely promising young players in Mauchline’s Adam Hall and theMacPherson sisters from Edinburgh, Heather and Julie. All four are serial Scottish agegroup champions. At 15, Julie still has several more years at junior level.


Pictures:


LORRAINE HILL and JIMINNES


Neil’s new scholarship as a wonderful opportu- nity. “This is a great chance for Josh to develop his game and a deserved reward for the dedication and hard work he has put into his badminton so far,” she said. Jeroen van Dijk, BADMINTON Europe’s


Development manager, added: “The focus of this project is to help and guide the young players with their first years in the senior circuit. For most players these first years are the most difficult ones of their senior career.” Neil, who won the Under-19 singles and


doubles at last month’s Scottish National Championships, agrees. “This is a hard year,” acknowledged the player who travelled to Bangkok as the world ranked No.652 in singles and No.291 with Ben Torrance in doubles. “I’ll be playing in Challenger events and trying


to get higher up the rankings. I qualified for my first senior singles event at the recent Irish Futures Series and I’ll also be trying to qualify for the Scottish Open Grand Prix at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow. “That promises to be a great event with a lot


of big names so it would be good to make it into the draw in singles and doubles.” The Scottish Open Grand Prix does promise


to be a huge event for the current and forthcoming generations. It will be a great showcase for those aiming for places


back at the Arena for the Commonwealth Games in July– and a great chance for the next generation to confirm that they are fit and ready to wear the star of the future label. Neil definitely wants to be part of a strong


up and coming band ready to edge into the senior squad. “I want to go as far as possible in


badminton,” he said. “But it is difficult at this stage to say where it will take me.Men’s singles is a tough event. Fortunately, JohnQuinn, who was Scotland’s


assistant coach, is now working with GB badminton and he will be identifying talent. Hopefully, I’m in his plans and I want to get on to the GB programme, but it will be one step at a time.”


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I want to get on the GB programme but it will be one step at a time


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