ORLÉANS INT’L – Gilmour feels like home

Kirsty Gilmour comes back after a long injury and strikes in France – her second home – for a second success this year. By Raphael Sachetat, live in Orleans. Photo: […]

Kirsty Gilmour comes back after a long injury and strikes in France – her second home – for a second success this year.

By Raphael Sachetat, live in Orleans. Photo: Yohan Nonotte/Badmintonphoto

Once again, the organizers of the French International had put “les petits plats dans les grands” as they say in French: the set up had changed from the previous days with a fully dark Palais des Sports lit only by the limelight on the main court to welcome the finals of this well-known . The theme of the day was obviously related to high technology as all spectators were provided with  connected bracelets which, in the dark when play stopped, would shine with different colours  to give an impression of a giant Christmas tree in the stands.

Someone else was shining on Sunday: Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour (pictured above) once again felt like home – she plays for the club of Chambly in the French league – and she secured her second major win since her return from a long injury layoff. Gilmour had not played for 5 months after her knee operation but came back full of energy and will to perform again at the international stage. After her success in the Austrian Open in February, she lost in the first round in Swiss Open, then in the quarters of the Polish Open last week.

This week in Orleans, she beat Chloe Birch from England, then Saili Rane of India, then had a tough fight against France’s sweetheart Delphine Lansac before edging Sofie Dahl in the semi-final in three games as well. The final looked uncertain as she faced one of Malaysia’s rising stars, Lee Ying Ying, who had a great week in France as well. Ahead most of the first game, Gilmour saw her opponent take over at 16-16. A few points later (20-19), it was the Malaysian who had a first game point which she wasn’t able to convert in spite of a nice dive. Gilmour then got back on track and scored the last two points for a 22-20 win.

The second game was more one-sided.  The Scot was all over the place – quick, precise, hurting her opponent with her drops and fast clears. The second game took less than half the time and Gilmour could rejoice after a 21-11 success.

“I am really thrilled to be here and have won here in France, where I seem to play so well. As you may know, I play for a French club – Chambly – here and I feel really good to play in France in general. It’s a great feeling to be back at 100% after my injury,” she said.

Moments later, France’s Lucas Corvée was up for the first of two attempts to shine for France and become the first ever French player to win this tournament. The first game show no signs of this likely to happen as Corvée went down 6-21 to an inspired Mark Caljouw, (pictured above) who had beaten in-form Fabian Roth of Germany in the semi-final.

But the tall Frenchman, coached by Peter Gade, came back to make it one game all after he rushed on his opponent at the net. The French favourite, however, could not cope with Caljouw’s power and he was obviously tired from his match of the previous night against Brazil’s Ygor Coelho. The third game went by quickly with a victory 21-11 for the visiting challenger.

Earlier, Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich (pictured left) had scooped gold in the mixed doubles thanks to a very quick victory over Taipei’s Chang/Chang. The latters’ compatriots Liao Min Chun and Cheng Heng Su, however, avenged their loss with a beautiful success over Indonesia’s Isfahani/Haryianto – the public enjoyed the riffle-smashes and the intensity in this match which went over time for a final 21-12, 14-21, 21-17 success.

Last but not least, France had another shot at a historic win on home soil when the blond Delphine Delrue and the brunette Lea Palermo entered the court, facing Japan’s Kugo/Yokoyama but the hopes were soon shattered by Japan’s very solid pair, who kept defending until the young French players had no choice but to take risks and risk committing mistakes, which they did en route to losing the first game 14-21.

With their spirits up and never ending fighting spirit, the French duo fought back to win the second game 21-17. In the third game, in spite of the whole stadium cheering for their heroes, it was just not good enough and Palermo and Delrue went down. Just like last year, Palermo and Delrue finished as runners-up in that tournament in spite of standing 50 rows ahead of their opponents of the day.

“We are really happy about this year’s edition. Of course, we had hoped it would be the last one at this level before moving to the Level 5 in the new structure,” said Franck Laurent, the tournament director, who was also very pleased to see three French players involved in the final even if there was no victory.  “We are a bit disappointed, of course, that we were not chosen for this level but we know the competition was tough with new entries. But we have to think of it as a positive note as we’ll still try to move one level up and bid for the 6th level next year. We hope to welcome an even bigger crowd in the Palais Des Sports. We’ve done all we could to give the public a good show, with these new LED lights. But I am especially proud to see how involved are all the volunteers for this tournament. This is our biggest victory.”

All results here

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.