H I S T O R Y
Badminton traces its beginnings to a game played thousands of years ago in Asia. The modern form of the sport was refined in Britain, but it is popular in countries all over the world.
evolved from a Chinese game of the 5th century bc called ti jian zi that
involved kicking the shuttle. A later version of the sport was played in ancient
Greece and India with rackets rather than with feet. A similar game called
shuttlecock, or jeu de volant, appeared in Europe during the 1600s.
army officers brought a revised version of the game back to Britain from India
in the mid-19th century. In 1873 the duke of Beaufort introduced the game to
royalty at his country estate, Badminton House, and the sport became known as
badminton. Four years later the Bath Badminton Club was founded. The version
played by its members forms the basis for today’s game.
Growth in Popularity
badminton was introduced to Indonesia by European colonists, the sport gained
immense popularity, and by the 1950s Indonesians began to dominate international
competitions. Badminton became an official Olympic sport in 1992, and the
Indonesian badminton team captured the country’s first gold medals.
soon spread beyond Britain to the rest of Europe and to countries throughout the
world. It became especially popular in Asia and North America. The only major
change through the years was in playing equipment, as lightweight rackets made
of aluminum, boron, graphite, and titanium gradually replaced wooden models.
and after World War II (1939-1945), American badminton players came to
prominence in international play. In the 1940s David Freeman was recognized as
the world’s best player. He won seven United States singles titles (1939-1942,
1947, 1948, 1953) and the All-England singles title (1949). He remained unbeaten
in singles competition from the age of 19 until he retired at age 33.
American-born player Judy Devlin Hashman dominated the women’s game during the
1950s and 1960s; she became a naturalized citizen of Britain in 1970.
England’s Gillian Gilks dominated women’s singles, women’s doubles, and
mixed doubles play during the early 1970s.
first world championships were held in 1977. Denmark’s Flemming Delfs and Lene
Koppen won the men’s and women’s singles titles, respectively. Since then,
East Asian nations—primarily China and Indonesia—have dominated professional
badminton. In both countries, badminton is as popular as basketball is in the
United States or soccer is in Britain. Spectators at matches typically sing,
chant, and cheer for their favorite players or teams.
from China and Indonesia have won numerous world championship titles. Men’s
singles world champions include Rudy Hartono (1980) of Indonesia and Yang Yang
(1987, 1989), Zhao Jianhua (1991), and Sun Jun (1999) of China. Women’s world
champions include Indonesia’s Susi Susanti (1993) and China’s Ye Zhaoying
most noted doubles player is South Korean men’s star Park Joo Bong, who won an
Olympic gold medal in men’s doubles in 1992 and a silver medal in mixed
doubles in 1996.
is also a badminton powerhouse, with players such as 1996 men’s Olympic gold
medalist Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen, 1997 men’s world champion Peter Rasmussen,
and 1999 women’s world champion Camilla Martin.