Badminton claims to be the second most-popular participation sport in the world. Only football beats it.
It’s officially the fastest racquet sport in the world. The shuttle is smashed around the court at speeds of up to 200 mph – the same speed as Eurostar!
Its Olympic debut was in 1992 in Barcelona. Since 1992 Asian players have won 42 of the 46 Olympic medals.
1.1bn people watched the first Olympic badminton tournament on TV.
Simon Archer and Jo Goode won Britain’s first Olympic medal in Sydney 2000 – a bronze in the mixed doubles. Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson went one better in Athens winning a silver in the same event.
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During an average top-level match ten shuttles are used with players hitting it roughly 400 times each. It’s a tiring business – they can travel several miles around the court
The record for the shortest match? Six minutes. Ra Kyung-min (South Korea) and Julia Mann (England) hold the record. Peter Rasmussen (Denmark) and Sun Jun (China) hold the record for the longest match – 124 minutes.
In Malaysia and Indonesia crowds of up to 15,000 people regularly fill the stands to cheer on their heroes.
The International Badminton Federation was established in 1934 and now has 148 member countries including England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Celebrity fans include snooker player Mark Williams and golfers Padraig Harrington and Nick Faldo. You can even buy Barbie a racquet and shuttles.
The Chinese originally played a version of badminton called Ti Zian Ji. They didn’t use racquets though, they used their feet.
The Duke of Beaufort held parties at his estate, Badminton House in 1873. His guests were invited to play a game with shuttlecocks – and so the official game of badminton was born.
The origin of the shuttlecock is a bit hazy. One theory is that writing feathers were stuck in corks when they weren’t used. During quiet moments the ‘pen’ store would be thrown, or whacked, around.
Olympic shuttles are made of 16 bird feathers, string and very strong glue. The Kansas City Museum is home to the world’s largest shuttlecock – 48 times bigger than normal.
While most players choose synthetic strings, some still use gut made from the dried stomach lining of animals such as cows or cats.