The ISF Badminton event for 2014 was hosted by Chinese Taipei and attracted entries from 15 countries worldwide.
These included Brazil, Belgium Flanders, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Scotland, Sweden, Turkey and hosts, Chinese Taipei.
Scotland was very privileged to be able to send both a girls’ and a boys’ school team this year.
Auchinleck Academy, Auchinleck, was represented in the girls’ school team event by Cara McCulloch, Tammi Gibson, Bethany Cook and Rachel Scott, and Mackie Academy, Stonehaven, was represented by Mark Leith, Jacob Reynolds, Matthew Duguid and Sam Muir in the boy’s school team event.
The Scottish delegation was led by Annette Leith, Stonehaven, with Jim Gauld as the Scottish umpire and Jennifer Sharpe, Auchinleck, and June Reynolds, Mackie, as coaches for the relevant teams.
Both teams were supported by Jan McCulloch, Judy Duguid, Davie Muir and Michael Reynolds whilst in Taipei. Hugh Ainsley was also at the event as part of the technical committee and supported the Scottish delegation throughout the event.
The athletes had all worked very hard in the lead up to the event, organising many fund raising events, applying for grants and commercial sponsorship.
Some of the athletes had to take their SQA exams in Taipei with discussion with the SQA making it possible for all exams to be taken.
“The organisation by the International School Sports Federation (ISF) was faultless from start to finish. We were met at the airport by guides who remained with us throughout the event, translating, organising trips, distributing information and helping out wherever and whenever necessary.
“This whole event was a very emotional rollercoaster for all involved.”
The grls competed well in the group stage but with opposition from China, 5-0, Bulgaria, 4-1, Sweden 3-2, and Brazil, 3-2, they were unable to secure any overall wins.
This then set up a tie with Germany, which again well contested but won in the end by Germany, 4-1.
The finalatch for the girls was against Luxembourg which proved to be full of emotion, the girls taking victory 5 – 0 to secure 12th place.
The boys fared better in their group, victory against Croatia and Luxembourg, 5-0, but defeat to Sweden 3-2 and Chinese Taipei 5-0, still gained them qualification to the top half of the knock out draw.
A quarter-final tie with eventual runners up, France, was their first encounter which proved difficult, the French winning the match 4-1.
They then faced a re-match with Sweden which had everyone on the edge of their seats. A tactical team change managed to convert the previous 3-2 defeat to a 3-2 victory and a fifth/sixth playoff against England.
Having battled hard throughout the competition, their spirits were not hampered by the final tie but they were unable to overcome the strength of the England team. A sixth place finish behind winners, Chinese Taipei, 2nd France, 3rd China, 4th Germany and 5th England was a fantastic result for the boys and well deserved.
To add icing to the cake in the spirit of the whole games the Scottish delegation were awarded the final honour of the event, the “Fair Play Award,” which was never in doubt given the amiable nature of the entire delegation and their willingness to participate in all aspects of the event to the best of their ability.
Annette added: “This again was a very emotional nomination and a great honour to receive the award.
“There are many sports which are involved within the ISF and this event has shown to me that these opportunities should be grasped with both hands when made available, not only to encourage already talented athletes to compete against other countries doing what they love but also to broaden horizons and introduce them to different cultures and allow them to be part of a world event, a great honour.”