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Mackay delighted with medal double at World Masters championships in Spain

By Iain Grant

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Mark Mackay with the silver and bronze medals he won at the international event in Huelva.
Mark Mackay with the silver and bronze medals he won at the international event in Huelva.

Caithness badminton ace Mark Mackay has returned with two medals from the World Masters championships in Spain.

The silver and bronze will take pride of place in the large collection of local, regional and international honours amassed by the 46-year-old farmer.

Andalusia was the latest stop-off in his far-travelled career for his first outing in the 45-50 age group competition.

A tough training programme helped him cope with a gruelling schedule of a dozen games in seven days at the Carolina Marin arena in Huelva.

He and partner Johnny Hast Hansen defeated Belgian, Danish/French, Indian, English and Dutch duos to reach the final of the doubles.

There they ran into the highly rated Indian combo of KA Aneesh and Vijay Mascarenhas in the final where they lost out 21-18, 21-16.

"It was the first time we played together but we just clicked on the court straight away," Mackay said of his Danish team-mate.

The highly competitive singles attracted 92 entries, with Mackay opening with comfortable straight-sets wins over French and Danish opponents.

He then lost the first set 22-20 to Aneesh before storming back to level and take the decider 21-9.

His three-set quarter-final victory over Austrian Harald Hochgatterer came at the cost of a strained hamstring.

It meant he was not firing on all cylinders in the semi where he went down in two sets to Sweden's Ulf Svensson.

Mackay said: "The injury meant I couldn't lunge, so it was disappointing I couldn't give it my best shot. If I hadn't injured myself in the quarters, I'd like to think I could have got to the final."

Mackay had not planned playing in the mixed but he ended up teaming up with German Petra Mews whose scheduled partner had to call off.

They won two games before going out in the third round to a Norwegian pairing.

The medals add to bronzes Mackay won in the World Masters in Poland two years ago and the European Masters in Spain in 2018.

He was very impressed by the venue, which has nine courts in its main arena and a further four in a linked complex.

"It was completely different to what I'm used to," he said. "It's really high and well lit and the shuttle flies differently – you don't get the drift you get in most venues."

Mackay added: "I'm absolutely delighted with how things went.

"I would have settled for one medal – that was the target – so to come home with two was brilliant."

He was part of a nine-strong Scottish contingent who stayed in a hotel near the venue after the flight from Edinburgh to Seville.

Mackay spent three months preparing for the competition, which featured regular practice games with his wife Shona, the Caithness women's number one, and workouts in the barn of his farm at Rattar Mains, Scarfskerry.

The latter included punishing stints on a treadmill in which he was latterly completing three-mile runs in 18 minutes.

The next international date in Mackay's diary is the European Masters in Slovenia next August.

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