History of Badminton

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Early origins: To trace the history of badminton, one has to go back in time to the middle of the 19th century in British India, as the sub-continent was called then. This was a game played by the British garrison officers in the British garrison town of Poona (Now known as Pune, India). Hence the game was also called as “Poona”. This game was played with a battledore and shuttlecock. The aim of the game was to hit the cock continuously in the air and not allow it to touch the ground. No nets were in use in the early days.

How the game got its name: This game was very similar to an ancient game played in parts of Tamil Nadu where soft fur balls were used instead of shuttlecocks. This game of “Poona” was taken by the British officers to England where it was further developed and rules were framed. This game was introduced to guests of the Duke of Beaufort at his princely home “Badminton” in Gloucesterchire, England from where it became popular. It is from here that the name “Badminton” was coined for the sport.

Court specifications and general rules: It is played in a rectangular court divided into two halves by a net which is fixed at a height of 5 feet 1 inch. The primary aim of the game was the same that the shuttle must not fall to the ground. As the court had boundaries, the shuttle could be deemed to be out if it crossed the boundaries. If the shuttle hits the net and falls down on the same side, a point is awarded to the other player. The players used to take turns serving. Initially, one cannot add to the scores if one wins a point on the opponent serve He can only win back the serve. Now the rules have changed. You can win points and the points will be added to the score even on your opponent serve. Initially the game was played over 15 points in a set but now it has been extended to 21 points. It is played over a best of three set format.

Equipments related to the game: The shuttle is the most important aspect of the game. It is supposedly made from the left wings of the goose. No one has been able to justify why. The feathers are embedded in a piece of cork which gives it the necessary weight and direction. In the early days wooden rackets were used and now carbon fibre rackets are used with catgut strings.

Spread of wings all over the globe: In March 1898, the first open tournament was held at Guildford. The first “All England” tournament was held the following year. In the initial years the top players belonged to Denmark, USA and Canada. The International Badminton Federation was formed in 1934. Subsequently with the spread of the game to Asian countries, Indonesia and to a certain extent Malaysia started producing champions. Then with the advent of China into the game, they started to sweep every tournament and are still the players to beat, both in the men’s as well as women’s version.

Some champions of the game: India has also seen its share of champions, the most notable among those being, the indomitable Prakash Padukone, who was reputed to have a silky touch. He was one player who had mastered the Indonesian as well as the Chinese players. Badminton has seen other greats in the men’s version such as Liem Swie King, Morten Frost Hansen etc. Women too play the game with the same finesse. The top women players today are Saina Nehwal from India and Carolina Marin from Spain.

Part of Commonwealth and Olympic family: Badminton has been a part of the Commonwealth Games program since 1966 and has been included as an Olympic sport since the 1992 Barcelona Games.

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