Mackay seeking to add to his medal haul at European Senior Championships
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Far north badminton kingpin Mark Mackay is preparing to head off on his latest quest to add to his international medal haul.
The farmer from Rattar Mains, Scarfskerry, will not be short of support as he is travelling to Slovenia with his wife and two young daughters.
He is taking part in the 45-50 age group of the European Senior Championships in Ljubljana, getting under way at the weekend.
A serial winner in and outwith Caithness, Mackay has picked up a silver and three bronzes on his forays in the international senior circuit to Guadalajara in 2018, Katowice in 2019 and Andalusia last December.
Mackay and his men's doubles partner Johnny Hast Hansen are top seeds in the men's doubles competition in Ljubljana, while he and English player Lynne Swan are joint fifth seeds in the mixed.
He is seeded joint third in the singles, which has an entry of 79.
"The seedings perhaps put a bit more pressure on me," Mackay said. "But I'm really looking forward to taking part in another competition."
His preparations have not been ideal as the event comes in the middle of the off-season for badminton in the far north.
He has also struggled to find a suitable local venue where he can play with wife Shona, the long-time Caithness number one women's player.
Mackay said: "It has been a decent summer so I've been able to get out running and I have a treadmill in our garage.
"But we've struggled to get somewhere to play and I've had to go over to Orkney a couple of times to get a game."
The couple, along with eight-year-old Sophie and Katie (5), are due to fly out from Edinburgh on Friday.
His involvement in last year's world championship at Huelva was hampered by a strained hamstring. He and Hansen were beaten finalists in the doubles before he battled on after sustaining the injury to pick up a bronze in the singles.
Mackay suffered a recurrence shortly afterwards at a competition in Dunfermline but he is confident the injury is now history.
His first game is a mixed doubles match on Sunday and, if successful, he can look forward to a hectic schedule over the course of the week-long competition.