The world’s greatest sporting event kicks off tomorrow and badminton ace Imogen Bankier is gearing up for the performance of her life.
The 24-year-old world silver medallist qualified for the London 2012 mixed doubles event in May, with playing partner Chris Adcock.
Imogen, from Milngavie, said: “The Olympics is the pinnacle of every athlete’s career.
“There is a real passion among all athletes, because everyone wants that gold medal.
“I feel a home advantage will help us massively, considering how much home support helped us at Wembley in the World Championships last year. It’s great to have a home Games and so exciting.
“The whole country is getting behind it and because it is the biggest sporting event in the world it is so good to be part of that.
“If, by performing well at the Olympics, we inspire more people to play badminton then that’s great. Playing and enjoying is the most important thing anyone can do to support us and the sport.”
Asked how she would cope with the pressure, Bankier said: “Ex-England player Donna Kellogg once told me ‘pressure is a privilege’, which is a great way to look at something usually seen as a negative aspect.
“Pressure is good because it reminds us that people are expecting us to do well, which is testament to our training.
“It’s a privileged position to feel pressure and perfectly normal.
“Chris and I know how to talk to each other on court if we see the other struggling.
“Sometimes we break-up a bad rally with a joke to allow us to refocus and not get too tense as this can affect your play.”
The Milngavie sportswoman says she is looking to Sir Chris Hoy for inspiration, adding: “My Olympic hero has to be Sir Chris Hoy.
“Considering he’s got four Olympic medals and over 50 world titles, he’s a Scot and he’s just an excellent role model.
“The way he conducts himself and how inspiring he is for young people is fantastic. I don’t think we’ll see anyone else like him in our lifetime.”
It’s been a long road to the Olympics for Imogen and she wants to thank the National Lottery for all its help
She said: “They have been fantastic in supporting us over the years and without them we would not be able to play to the level we do.”
Earlier this week the badminton duo learned that they would be in Group A of the qualification rounds with their great rivals - Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei - the Chinese number one pair.