Badminton: Game, Set, Serve!
Let's watch the birdie fly......
In one of the Indian sports' most iconic moments, the men's badminton team defeated 14-time champions and holders Indonesia in the final on Sunday (15th May 2022) to win their first Thomas Cup gold medal. India, the tournament's first-time finalists, stunned Indonesia 3-0 in the final to write history. It was the first time that India had even reached the final at the Thomas Cup but showed nerves of steel throughout the final.
Badminton is a racket sport in which a shuttlecock is hit across a net with racquets. The most prevalent versions of the game are "singles" and "doubles," which can be played with bigger teams. Badminton is frequently played as a casual outdoor sport in a yard or on the beach, while official games are performed on a rectangular indoor court.
Given the origins of badminton in India, it is surprising that India took more than 150 years to win their first Thomas Cup. With the exception of the Thomas Cup, Indian badminton has reached new heights.
Prakash Padukone, India's first badminton superstar, was a pioneer in more ways than one. Prakash Padukone made ripples in Indian badminton circles by winning both junior and senior national titles in the same year. He then set the standard internationally by capturing the men's singles gold at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.
In the last decade, Indian badminton has seen a transformation that has propelled the sport to new heights.
"Your dreams are what define your individuality. They have the power to give you wings and make you fly high."
- P. V. Sindhu
India has firmly established itself as one of the best badminton countries in the world, with three Olympic medals, two previous world No. 1 players, and a historic maiden world championship title.
The journey of the previous decade has made players like Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu household names in the country while Parupalli Kashyap, Kidambi Srikanth, B Sai Praneeth, Jwala Gutta, and Ashwini Ponappa have all made important contributions along the way.
Enthusiasm in the Britan
In March 1873, an English sports fan wrote to The Field: The Country Gentlemen's Newspaper in England, requesting information on the new 'Badminton game of Battledore,' which he had heard was popular in India and was gaining popularity in the United Kingdom. In a letter published in the newspaper's 'Notes and Queries' section, a man named K requested, "Can any of your readers give me particulars as to the method in which it is played, what implements are necessary, etc."
In the months that followed, readers provided details about the game they had played or saw others play. The majority of the readers who contributed information were British troops and officers stationed or serving in British India.
A Handbook of Badminton that explained the size of a typical badminton court, the net, and the rules of play and scoring.
These are the oldest recordings of badminton that are still available today. However, the game's history in India dates back at least a decade.
Badminton, as we know it now, is said to have started in India in the 1860s, according to historians. Before it was renamed 'Badminton,' the game was known as 'Poona' in the British circle.
“British army officers got introduced to the indigenous version of the game, played for centuries, while stationed in India around the 1860s. They made their own adaptations to the sport, primarily adding the net and called it Poona or Poonah, after the town (Pune) where the garrison was based in. The first informal set of badminton rules for the game was formed in India by the British colonists in 1867,” reads an article on the official website of the Olympics.
The game was initially played on the grounds of the Khadki Ammunition Factory. According to Bernard Adams' history of the game, badminton developed as a social pleasure rather than a competitive indoor sport. Up to eight players (four on each side) might play in the early years. The court was either rectangular or in the shape of an hourglass. The game was so popular among colonial officers that it was supposedly seen as a threat to church attendance on Sundays by the Christian clergy of the day. In the years that followed, retiring British colonial officers brought the game back to Britain, where it gained on in the West.
The Thomas Cup victory should not be our defining achievement. Along with championships, a recognition of our history and game's roots may stoke interest in newcomers. This inner force can be channeled to expand world dominance in the near future as Indonesia did.
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