BEITH badminton ace Eleanor O'Donnell is heading Down Under for a major challenge tonight.
She jets off to Australia to compete in the Sudirman Cup world mixed team championships in Gold Coast, venue for the next Commonwealth Games.
Kieran Merrilees, Kirsty Gilmour and Martin Campbell - the three survivors from the Scotland team that was unbeaten in finishing top of Group 2 at the 2013 Cup in Kuala Lumpur are joined by Mauchline's Adam Hall, Patrick MacHugh, Rebekka Findlay and Julie MacPherson.
O’Donnell will be making her senior Scottish debut just weeks after winning a silver medal in mixed doubles at the European Junior Under 19 Championships in the French city of Mulhouse.
But Scotland, the only Home Nation competing following England’s withdrawal, will face a tough test in Gold Coast when they take on Canada, New Zealand and Vietnam in their Group 2 matches, starting on Sunday.
The eight players, all of them past or present Scottish National champions, will be led by head coach Tat Meng Wong.
O’Donnell, the youngest member of the squad at 18, said: “I can’t wait to get there. I’ve obviously played junior events for Scotland but this is my first senior cap and in such a big event as the Sudirman Cup. It’s going to be amazing.”
She and Julie MacPherson won their first Yonex Scottish National senior title in Perth in February and she added: “I think I will be playing women’s doubles and it’s going to be such a great experience for me and Julie as we are both quite young. It’s such a big arena and such a great event so it will be good.”
Anne Smillie, Chief Executive of BADMINTONscotland, said: “We know we face tough opposition but the experience will be invaluable for our players, especially as the Commonwealth Games next year will be staged in the same arena.”
The Sudirman Cup runs from May 21 to May 28, with 10-time champions China starting as strong favourites. Korea, with three wins, and Indonesia, with one, are the only other Cup winners. Denmark, whose men’s team who last year brought the Thomas Cup back to Europe for the first time, will bid to end the Asian stranglehold on the Sudirman Cup.