TOP badminton star Imogen Bankier is the bookies’ clear favourite to win the mixed doubles at this weekend’s Yonex Scottish National Championships - having won it consecutively for the past five years.
The Milngavie ace is back with doubles partner Watson Briggs and hoping to make it four wins with him. Last year she picked up the title with Paul Van Rietvelde from Longniddry.
Bankier (23), who now trains full time in Milton Keynes, is looking forward to returning north according to coach Peter Jeffrey who heads the Great Britain Development team.
He said: “She is very much looking forward to playing in the Scottish championships and has had a very good season so far.”
The sportswoman is also hoping to recapture the women’s doubles with Jillie Cooper this year.
Last year Bankier and Linda Sloan were beaten in the final by Emma Mason and Cooper 15-21, 22-20 and 21-15. This broke a three year run of victories, having won in 2010 with Mason, 2009 with Cooper and 2008 again with Mason.
Victories at the championship which start today (Friday) at the Bell’s Sport Centre, Perth, and conclude on Sunday, will help Bankier in her preparation for this year’s London Olympics - which is only six months away.
Jeffrey added: “Although a victory at the Scottish Championships will not go towards Imogen’s final world ranking points, she is someone who will want to win.
“At the moment she is in contention for a place in the Olympic squad, but we still have another three months before all the ranking points are added up and a decision is made.”
Bankier’s mixed doubles partner for London 2012 is England’s Chris Adcock and their most recent current world ranking puts them at 14.
Their nearest rivals for a place in the Olympic squad are English pair Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork who are currently ranked 18.
After the Perth championships Bankier will have to wait until the German Open at the end of this month before they have another chance of improving their ranking position.
Last year they reached the semi-final and hope to get a podium place this time round.
At the beginning of the year Bankier and Adcock were given a boost to their hopes of Olympic qualification when they defeated the Chinese world champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei in the first round of the Victor Korea Open.
Unfortunately they were beaten in the second round by another Chinese pairing, He Hanbin and Bao Yixin.