Winning Students


Blair hits the books in between his badminton successes

28 November 2013
Imogen Bankier and Robert Blair celebrate their Scottish Open Grand Prix title. Photo: Badmintonscotland

Imogen Bankier and Robert Blair celebrate their Scottish Open Grand Prix title. Photo: Badmintonscotland

Law, geography, mathematics, physics. You name it, Robert Blair has studied it.

And fresh from his badminton mixed doubles success at the Scottish Open Grand Prix, the 32-year-old former world silver medallist is enjoying the opportunity to broaden his horizons.

“I finished my law module in October and will start the next module, on the environment, in January,” said Blair, who studies through the Open University in Scotland and receives scholarship support from Winning Students to help him balance his sport and studies.

“It’s all part of an open degree and I’m enjoying seeing what takes my fancy. I’ll build up the module credits and then start to focus more. I did a lot of physics at school and then studied Maths at university when I was younger so it was all formulas and figures.

“It has been a bit of a test writing full essays in English again, but I’m really relishing it now and the degree allows me to pick and choose modules and gain a broader knowledge of different subjects.”

Whether he decides to swap the badminton court for the law court remains to be seen, but currently Blair’s focus is on Glasgow 2014 and the blossoming partnership with fellow Open University student Imogen Bankier.

Scotland’s two former world silver medallists defeated England’s top seeds Chris Langridge and Heather Olver 21-16 21-14 to give Blair his fourth mixed doubles title and Bankier her third.

It is a re-acquaintance rather than a new beginning for the pair, having played together for four years whilst based at the Great Britain training centre in Milton Keynes. Now back living and training in Glasgow, the duo both reached their respective men’s and women’s doubles semi-finals in front of a home crowd at the Emirates Arena.

Blair added: “It was a really good experience to be back competing in Glasgow at such a big tournament. To win was nice, especially in the first year after the tournament had been upgraded to a Grand Prix so the field was stronger than ever.

“Imogen and I complement one another and our games are suited to one another. She has improved tremendously over recent years and our game together has now developed where we can both take charge at different points in the matches.

“She is very focused and knows what she wants to do and now we both say what we want rather than one person deciding for the other. We’re both a bit more mature and have a better understanding of the game which bodes well for the partnership.”

Also at the Scottish Open Grand Prix, University of the West of Scotland Film production student Kirsty Gilmour reached the singles final, edged out after a gruelling 68-minute battle by the Spaniard and top seed Carolina Marin.

Other Winning Students-supported athletes at the tournament were: Martin Campbell, Jillie Cooper, Kieran Merrilees (all Open University in Scotland); Matthew Carder (University of Glasgow); Rebekka Findlay (University of the West of Scotland); Patrick MacHugh and Catriona Pringle (University of Strathclyde) and Josh Neil(City of Glasgow College).