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A smashing hit: 5 facts about badminton that will take you by surprise

By HT Brand Studio | June 22, 2018

This popular sport goes back approximately 2,000 years, making it a subject of colourful discussion.

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How often is it that we care to look up the history of a sport we absolutely love playing? For instance, have you at any time returned home after a thrilling game of badminton to enquire about its origins, its name, or its Olympic debut? You might be well aware of the recent achievements of Saina Nehwal or PV Sindhu, but would you happen to know about the shortest or the longest badminton match ever played? How popular is the sport anyway? Read on to brush up your knowledge!

Making history
Badminton is quite the modern sport, but has its origins in ancient civilizations of Eurasia. At the time, which would be approximately 2,000 years ago, the game was played using small racquets called battledores—rows of plastic, nylon, or parchment stretched across a wooden frame--- and shuttlecocks made of some light material. Much like the current game, it required two people to keep hitting the cork back and forth. There was, however, no net involved. Now, take a quick guess at what this sport was called. It’s simple—battledore and shuttlecock!

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What’s in a name?
By this time, you are probably itching to know how the game even came about to be known as badminton. So, here’s your answer—the sport is named after Badminton House, home of the Duke of Beaufort in the English county of Gloucestershire. He is said to have introduced the game to his guests at a party in 1873, after watching the same being played by British Army officers in Pune, India. The Indian version of the sport involved a net, and was called ‘poona’, the erstwhile name of Pune.

A painting of Badminton House in Gloucestershire. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The first of many firsts
Badminton went on to become so popular in England that the first set of rules was established by the newly formed Bath Badminton Club in 1877. Sixteen years later, the Badminton Federation of England was formed, and in 1899, it held the first All England Championships. It was, however, much later that the rest of the world took notice, when the Badminton World Federation, formerly known as the International Badminton Federation, was formed in 1934. The first member countries were England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Holland, Canada, New Zealand, and France. India joined as an affiliate in 1936.

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Asian domination
Fast forward 30 years, and we see badminton making a debut at the Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica. In 1972, it made its debut as a demonstration sport at the Olympic Games in Munich. But, when was it officially included in the Olympics schedule? It was at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, with men’s and women’s singles and doubles events. Asian nations made a spectacular show by winning 15 of the 16 medals! The trend has been so ever since. Sample this: Only three countries—Malaysia, Indonesia, and China—have won the Thomas Cup, the men’s world team championships, ever since it was started in 1948. Even the Uber Cup, the women’s world team championships, has been won by only five nations till date, four of which are Asian.

Need for speed
Today, badminton is touted to be the second most popular sport in the world, after football. It is also the fastest racquet sport in the world, given the incredible speeds at which a birdie can travel. At a special experiment a few ago, Tan Boon Heong of Malaysia broke all records by propelling the shuttlecock at a speed of 493 km/h! Why, that’s the greatest recorded speed for a projectile in any kind of sport, including tennis, football, and ice hockey. The fastest smash in a badminton competition is attributed to Mads Pieler Kolding of Denmark, who produced a stunner at 426 km/h at the Premier Badminton League in 2017. India’s Parupalli Kashyap also made history for once clocking a speed of 401 km/h!

The long and short of it
How long does a typical badminton match last? An hour or so, you’d say. But here’s something that will fill you with amazement. At the 1996 Uber Cup in Hong Kong, a game between South Korea’s Ra Kyung-min and England’s Julia Mann lasted for only six minutes! There’s also a match that lasted for 124 minutes, the longest in history, and was played between Denmark’s Peter Rasmussen and China’s Sun Jun. Now, would you have the patience to sit through that?

Building a strong base for future badminton stars in India is PNB MetLife. Ever since it was launched in 2015, its Junior Badminton Championship (JBC) has been providing the right platform to promote the country's second most popular sport among children in the age group of 5-15 years. To follow the tournament’s ongoing 4th edition, visit www.healthforhappiness.in