Callum Smith is no Bonnie Prince, but the 20-year-old Scot found out the hard way that he is still the young pretender to Toby Penty’s British badminton throne.
Smith lost 2-0 (25-23, 21-12) to British No.1 Penty in front of a packed-out show court at the NEC in Birmingham at this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
Smith is making his major Games debut in the West Midlands, and despite defeat to 29-year-old Penty, the Melrose shuttler is taking the positives from his time in England’s second city.
“This is the best badminton I’ve played and I’m happy with that performance although I did lose,” said Smith.
“I’m grateful to play Toby, I’ve looked up to him as such a good player. He’s played well this trip, so I’m happy with the result overall.”
At times, Smith went toe-to-toe with Penty and had four game points to take a 1-0 lead.
But they came and went, with the Englishman’s experience and grit willing him through a game he admitted he was playing poorly in.
“I just don’t think I ever got going, it was a bit of a struggle today,” said Penty.
“I think I was quite lucky to get through that first set but it was the big difference. If I’d had lost that first set, it’s quite a long way. To get that first set over the line was big.”
For Smith, however, it is all about bottling up the experience and using it to push on with his development.
Barely out of his teens and already a Scottish champion, there is little doubt that Smith has a big future ahead.
“I didn’t know that much about him coming in, but I certainly do now so he’s someone to definitely look out for in the future,” added Penty.
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.
The crowd in hall one of the NEC in Birmingham have created walls of noise at times for home nations athletes, but there was no love lost for Scot Smith when facing home favourite Penty.
“This is definitely the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of,” added Smith.
“That was the first time the home crowd was against me, but even so there were still a lot of Scottish fans supporting.
“It’s good to have the support, it pushes you on.”
If Smith has eyes on heading to Paris under the Team GB banner in two years’ time, Penty is the man he must usurp.
Nearly three hundred years ago, Bonnie Prince Charlie fled after defeat, but Smith has no such plans.
He said: “Anything could happen in two years, I’m going to train hard and see what happens.”
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