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Badminton star Robert Blair returns to Scotland fold

Robert Blair celebrates a victory for England
Blair has won several titles while representing England

Former Scotland badminton international Robert Blair, who has represented England for eight years, has decided to return to representing his homeland.

Edinburgh-born Blair, 29, will spend the next three years re-qualifying so that he can represent Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"The possibility of representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is an exciting one," he said.

"This is something I have been thinking about for quite some time now."

Blair has had a successful career since taking what was at the time a controversial decision to represent England - one that was taken to improve his chances then of Commonwealth medals.

It closely followed a similar defection by world squash champion Peter Nicol.

But Blair and partner Chris Adcock now find themselves 53rd in the world, behind three other English men's doubles pairings, while the Scot and Gabrielle White are even further back, in 108th, in the mixed.

I have enjoyed considerable success during my time with England, but circumstances have changed

Robert Blair

Blair, who has been based in Milton Keynes, has been ranked as high as world No.5 in men's doubles and No.6 in mixed doubles.

In 2006, he won the mixed doubles at the Dutch Open with Jenny Wallwork, beating Indonesia's Flandy Limpele and Vita Marissa.

Blair and Anthony Clark won the men's doubles silver medal at the 2006 World Championships in Madrid and bronze medals at both the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the European Championships in Den Bosch.

The Scot and Clark also won the English national men's doubles title.

At the 2007 Bank of Scotland International Championship, Blair won the mixed doubles title with Natalie Munt and the men's doubles with David Lindley.

Blair had enjoyed previous success at the same tournament in 2001 and 2002, when he won the mixed doubles with fellow Scot Imogen Bankier.

Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier
Blair will be back competing for medals with the likes of Bankier

He also represented Great Britain in the mixed doubles with Munt at the Olypmic Games in Athens, where they reached the last 16.

"I have enjoyed considerable success during my time with England, but circumstances have changed and I believe it is now in my best interest to make this change," said Blair.

"I am very much looking forward to playing a part in bringing on some of the very talented young Scottish players."

Scotland's top men's doubles team, Martin Campbell and Angus Gilmour, are currently ranked 67th in the world.

Badminton Scotland chief executive Anne Smillie welcomed the return of Blair, who has reached 120th in the world when playing mixed with Bankier.

"This is great news for Scotland," she said. "Robert is a world-class player and Scotland have world-class players in the making as well as world-class training facilities.

"Our young squad showed at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi that they are going to be stars of the future and working alongside a player of Robert's experience can only benefit them.

"We now have a strong new coaching set-up in place and Robert has already worked with Yvette Yun Luo and John Quinn in England.

"I, for one, am looking forward to him representing Scotland again."

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see also
Badminton calendar
27 May 09 |  Badminton
Badminton results
27 May 09 |  Badminton
Blair claims Scots title double
25 Nov 07 |  Badminton
Scots praise for defector Blair
26 Sep 06 |  Badminton

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