Imogen Bankier retires from badminton at age of 28

By Phil GoodladBBC Scotland
Imogen Bankier
Imogen Bankier won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal

World silver medal winner Imogen Bankier has retired from badminton at the age of 28, saying she no longer had the required motivation.

The Scot is to pursue a business career, helping establish a Paris branch of The Whisky Shop, set up by her father Ian, the Celtic chairman.

"It is not a decision I've taken lightly," Bankier told BBC Scotland.

"I've taken almost a full year to contemplate while I've played a little bit and trained a little bit."

Bankier won silver in the mixed doubles at the World Championships in 2011. With English partner Chris Adcock, she defeated four seeds before losing to Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, the world number one pair, in the final.

The pair followed that with bronze at the European Championships the following year, but she split from the Great Britain programme after a first-round defeat at the London 2012 Olympics saying she did not believe it would help her qualify for Rio in 2016.

Bankier teamed up with Robert Blair to win Commonwealth bronze at Glasgow 2014 before taking a sabbatical from the sport in February and announcing she would not try to qualify for the Olympics because of difficulties over finding a new partner.

"I've achieved many of the goals I set out to achieve when I was 10 years old and decided I wanted to go down the path of playing badminton," she said.

"I achieved so much early on and I feel like I've got to the stage where there's nothing left that is really driving me forward.

"It is such a hard lifestyle to maintain when you are not 100% motivated and, when you have done it for more than 10 years, it takes its toll.

"I felt it was a good time to call it a day and move on to something new."

Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier with their Commonwealth Games mixed doubles bronze
Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow

Bankier admitted the World Championships silver medal was her career high.

"It was a euphoric week, really fantastic, out of the blue," she said.

"It was absolutely incredible and I will always remember that week as being the highlight of my badminton career.

"I think also the Commonwealth Games, the timing of it, the moment I shared with Robert, who was my long-standing partner.

"To win a Commonwealth medal in my home city of Glasgow was incredibly special."

She said leaving the sport now gives her a chance to "start afresh in a brand new career", adding: "I knew I had other ambitions and things I wanted to do and achieve and explore while I'm still young and not in my late 30s."

Former Scotland international Susan Egelstaff has paid tribute to Bankier but said the decision is "not a huge surprise".

"She hasn't played internationally for months," she said.

"It's a real shame for Scottish badminton. She's been if not the most successful player in Scotland's history then certainly one of the most successful."