Sports with shuttlecocks and racquets go way back to ancient Greece, China and India. In England, Battledore was popular with kids from Medieval times, a sort of keepy uppy with a paddle and a feathered cock. British Military officers in Poona, India, in the 19th century got bored with Battledore and added a net to make it more fun. They brought this new game back to a lawn party at the Duke of Beaufort’s house in England in 1873. Beaufort was so pleased with it, he declared it the Badminton game, after his own house.
Badminton was first played at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and has become a favourite due to its fast paced excitement and the frenetic footwork, lightness, poise and power smashes of the players.
At London 2012 there will be five medal events: men’s and women’s Singles, men’s and women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. All events will begin with a preliminary stage: the competitors will be divided into groups, and each player and doubles pair will play everyone else in their group. The best players move on to the knockout stage. The competition takes place between 28 July – 5 August at Wembley Arena.
There will be plenty of home talent Olympic hopefuls darting round the courts this week, including Chris Adcock, Rajiv Ouseph, Rob Blair, Gabby White and Imogen Bankier who will doubtless play out of their skins for the home crowd.
But expectations for medal prospects in 2012 are being managed, thanks to the sport giving itself a red light after a performance review earlier in the year. British badminton has been in decline since our last medals in Athens 2004.
Grassroots badminton, however, is enjoying a resurgence in schools and as a fun sport for adults. A new course, Badders in the City is a 6 week introductory course for Londoners that costs just £20. It’s running at leisure centres across the city and will teach you the basics. One of the best clubs in London is Sobell Badminton Club in Holloway which welcomes all ability players. London Met Badminton Club is the biggest pay and play club in town (Met students get a 50% discount), you can play in Canary Wharf, Victoria, Little Venice – loads of places.
Note that Parabadminton is campaigning to become a Paralympic sport but recent efforts failed to get it included for Rio 2016.
Note also, Badminton is the only sport Londonist Editors will play. Fancy a match?
Find out more about the sport at Badminton England.
Get the Londonist lowdown on all Olympic sports in the run up to the Games.