The History of Badminton: India and the World

The History of Badminton: India and the World

The History of Badminton: India and the World

Badminton, the sport that all of us love to play, was not always known by this name. Badminton was earlier called ‘Battledore and Shuttlecock’ in its earliest days. The name came from the two pieces of equipment that were used to play the sport. The game gained popularity in the British Indian city of Poona and it was carried back home to England by the English officers and became popular among the members of the House of Badminton and that simpler name stuck to the sport.

The rest of the history of this sport is just as interesting as the story of its naming. Initially, badminton was a simple outdoors game where the players engaged in the competitive activity of keeping the shuttlecock in the air for as long as possible by making sure that it did not fall to the ground at their end. As the game became more popular amongst the Englishmen, official rules for the sport were devised.

The first All England Badminton Championship was held in 1899 and it has been the most coveted tournament since then. It was almost a century later that the World Championships were held in 1977. The Olympic committee included badminton as an Olympic sport 15 years later. During the initial championships, badminton, as a sport, was very different from how it is played today.

The differences lay not only in the equipment used and the rules followed but also in the manner the players engaged in the sport. The rallies were much shorter than today, the players moved in a very different manner and the hand and racket movement techniques were different as well.

In comparison, rallies are much longer today, in singles and doubles, players move very efficiently and intuitively, taking care to maximize reach while minimizing the expenditure of energy and racket movement is bio-mechanically scientific to ensure the greatest strength and least chance of injury.

All these changes happened over the decades supported by scientific advancements. Rackets, shuttlecocks, court surfaces, shoes, apparel fabric, and supportive medical care etc., made this evolution possible for badminton, today, to be known as the fastest racket sport played all over the world with great enthusiasm, grit and passion. Badminton performance, at the world stage, was initially dominated by the English as it had the greatest popularity and acceptance there then it was the age of the Danish as they grabbed several of the most prestigious tournament titles.

The sport now, for the last few decades, has been exclusively dominated by Asian countries and has come to be known to newcomers as an ‘Asian sport’ even. This is both a matter of repute and dispute as the inaccuracy of the stereotype may be detrimental to the sport’s growth in the West.

Nevertheless, it is with their dedication and hard work that countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Taipei and India have marked their place in the list of the top-performing countries. India has an illustrious history of sports to be proud about. India’s history of badminton begins from the very beginning of the history of the sport as Poona, current-day Pune, is considered by many to be the place of the genesis of the sport.

The Badminton Association of India, which was established six years after its British counterpart in 1899, is the governing body of all official tournaments and proceedings. The first Olympic badminton contingent from India was composed of Madhumita Bisht, Vimal Kumar and Deepankar Bhattacharya. This trio was the beginning of a long list of high achievers in the sport from India.

Prakash Padukone recorded his name as World No. 1 and became the first widely known badminton celebrity of the country. This fame came after he claimed the prestigious All England Open title in 1980. He also became the first Indian shuttler to claim the Commonwealth Games gold medal.

The tradition put in force by Padukone was carried on with full force as great badminton prodigies followed in his footsteps and made India proud of its badminton culture. Pullela Gopichand, the student of P. Padukone, followed the success story of his teacher and claimed the highest glory as he won the All-England Championship in 2001.

This etched the name of India on the world badminton stage as an upcoming home of the succeeding generation of top shuttlers and this entire generation was moulded by the teaching and direction of Pullela Gopichand. From this generation came names such as Saina Nehwal, P.V Sindhu and Srikanth Kidambi etc.

The Indian badminton community is prospering as new generations of shuttlers achieve great personal glory and national fame with every Olympic, Commonwealth, Asian, All England and Super Series award they clinch. Not only at the national and international professional stage, even at the club level tournaments are a frequent sight and are flooded with enthused and hard-working young faces. Indian badminton only has the way forward to look and go as the tireless hard work and talent of its young generation combines with experienced coaching and easy and affordable access to state-of-art equipment.