Present in the Olympic programme since the Barcelona 1992 Games, Badminton originated in England around the year 1600. It derives from a game called Battledore and Shuttlecock, in which the aim was to use a racket to hit a shuttlecock as many times as possible without letting it fall to the ground.
In the mid-19th century, British soldiers stationed in India added a net to Battledore and Shuttlecock and later took this version of the game, called Poona, back to Great Britain. The sport was presented to guests of the Duke of Beaufort at his country house, called Badminton House – hence the name we know it by today.
The first Badminton tournament was held in March 1898, also in Great Britain. In the 1930s, the sport gained popularity in countries such as Denmark, the United States and Canada. In 1934, the sport’s international federation was established, which organised the first World Championships in 1948.
In 1966, Badminton was included in the programme of the Commonwealth Games, held in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica. It made its debut as a demonstration sport at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games, and it was also a demonstration sport at the Seoul 1988 Games.
The sport only joined the official Olympic programme at the 1992 Games, with men’s and women’s singles and doubles events. The mixed doubles event was only included in the programme at the Atlanta 1996 Games.
In Badminton, a point is played until one of the players lets the shuttlecock fall on his/her side of the net. Matches are played over the best of three games, and each game is won by the first player or doubles pair to reach 21 points by a margin of two clear points. However, if the score reaches 29-29, the winner of the next point wins the game.
During a game when the leading score reaches 11, there is a 60-second interval. When the leading score reaches 11 in the third game, players change ends.
Before each match, a draw is made to decide who begins serving. The players change sides when the player who serves loses a point. In doubles matches, players alternate positions. Players serve in a similar way to tennis, diagonally – from the left if the server’s score is even, and from the right it is odd – and into a specific area.
In tournaments, there is a preliminary round, in which everyone competes within a group. The 16 best players (in the case of singles) and the eight best (in the case of doubles) go through to the qualifying round, in which the winners of each side of the bracket play for gold. Two bronze medals are given to the losers in the semi-finals.
Shuttlecocks weigh between 4.74 and 5.5 grams, and contain 16 goose feathers, all plucked from the bird’s left wing. During a match, a shuttlecock can travel at up to 400 kilometres per hour.