London 2012: Badminton
Tell me about badminton:
Many people know the game of badminton as a similar, smaller version of tennis. Badminton and tennis share many similarities but have distinguishing differences that make the game of badminton one of the world’s favorite sports. Badminton made its first Olympic appearance when Barcelona hosted the Olympic games in 1992. In the twenty years that Badminton has captured the attention of the world in the Olympics, the world’s best contenders have been from China, Indonesia, and Korea. For the London 2012 Olympics, the badminton matches will be hosted at the Wembley Arena, a newly revamped arena that hosted the Badminton World Federation World Badminton Championships in August 2011.
What’s up with the scoring?
There will be five different events held for the Badminton athletes participating in this summer’s Olympics; men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. Athletes play on a court that is extended from 5.18m wide (for Singles matches) to 6.1m wide for doubles matches, while the length remains 13.4m. Players use a racket to hit a shuttlecock back and forth over a net. The shuttlecock is the “ball” of the game of badminton. The shuttlecock is a cone shaped object with 16 goose feathers creating the cone shape and a round cork base where the racket meets the shuttlecock and causes its bounce off the racket. A player scores a point each time he or she is able to hit the shuttlecock on to their opponent’s side, within the court boundaries, without their opponent being able to return the shuttlecock. Once a player has 21 points and is leading by two points, he/she wins the game. Each badminton match is a set of three games. If any single game gets to a score of 29-29, whoever gets the next point is the victor.
International players to watch out for:
There will be 86 men and 86 women competing for gold in the 2012 London Olympic Badminton matches. On an international level, China and Korea dominate the Badminton world and their athletes hold the top ranks according to the Badminton World Federation. World champion and No. 1 ranked Lin Dan of China is a favorite for winning gold for the men’s singles title after wining gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Wang Yihan of China, ranked No. 1 in the world, will be looking to take home gold in the women’s singles. As for the doubles matches, China again dominates the world rankings with Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang looking to win gold in the women’s doubles category and Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei looking to win the mixed doubles category. Korea beat out China in the men’s doubles category with Chung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae ranked number one in the world.
Americans to watch for:
Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan have been ranked 25th internationally for the men’s doubles event. Tony Gunawan has participated in the Olympics since the 2000 Olympics held in Sydney, Australia and Howard Bach has been to both the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece and the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing, China.
Talk like an Olympian:
In order to get through the Badminton matches without seeming too lost, here are some terms to know that might come in handy:
Shuttlecock – the object that is hit back and forth by the athletes using their rackets and can sometimes be called a bird
Smash – When one opponent hits the shuttlecock low and hard into their opponents half of the court
Drive – When the shuttlecock is hit so that it moves hard and parallel to the ground over the net and into the opponents side of the court
Fault – when any regulation is broken during the game