ROBERT BLAIR, the former Scotland internationalist who has represented England for the last eight years, has decided to return to Scotland.
Robert, who has been ranked as high as No 5 in the world in men’s doubles and No 6 in mixed doubles, will spend the next three years requalifying so that he can represent Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Blair will be one of the few sportsmen who has changed countries and then switched back again but BADMINTONscotland Chief Executive Anne Smillie today welcomed his return.
“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.”
The Badminton World Federation have been advised that Blair will now fall under the jurisdiction of BADMINTONscotland from now on and that Scotland will now be responsible for making all his tournament entries.
Blair said today: "I have decided that it is time for me to go back to being a player affiliated to my home country. The possibility of representing Scotland in the future, and especially at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, is a very exciting one.
“This is something I have been thinking about for quite some time now. 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.
"I am very much looking forward to playing a part in bringing on some of the very talented young Scottish players.”
Adrian Christy, BADMINTON England Chief Executive, said: "BADMINTON England respect Robert's decision and, as a consequence, understand his desire to return to represent Scotland.
"I would like to thank Robert for his commitment to England and wish him every success for his future career."
Edinburgh-born Blair, who played three times for Scotland in the 1999-2000 season, won the first of his 54 England caps at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and is England’s third most capped current player behind Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark.
In 2006 he and 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. He and Clark also won the English National men’s doubles title in 2006 and 2007.
Blair also won the mixed doubles title with Natalie Munt at the 2001 and 2002 Bank of Scotland international Championships and with Imogen Bankier at the 2007 Championships when he also won the men’s doubles title with David Lindley.
In 2006 he won the mixed doubles at the Dutch Open with Jenny Wallwork when he beat Indonesia’s Flandy Limpele and Vita Marissa. Ironically, he has partnered Flandy in men’s doubles at the last two Super Series events in China and Hong Kong.
Blair also represented Great Britain in men’s doubles at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.