Made-for-television radar guns instantly flash the speed of serves, volleys and pitches to the sporting public around the world these days, but few viewers could name the world's fastest racket sport. The title belongs to badminton.
The flight of the shuttlecock, a missile of cork and goose feather that players volley across the net, has been recorded at speeds of 260 kilometres per hour. Speed, agility and lightning-fast reflexes are essential to the game. Add stamina, too - players have been known to cover more than six kilometres in a single match.
While contemporary badminton first appeared in the mid-19th century, it evolved from the game battledore and shuttlecock, which can be traced back to ancient Greece, China, Japan and India.
Especially popular in Asia and Europe today, badminton became a full competition sport at the Olympic Games in 1992.
Chinese Badminton Association
IBF Member since:
President: Li Furong
Secretary-General: Liu Fengyan
Add: C3 Longtan Road, Chongwen District, Beijing 100061, China
Tel: (8610) 67120961
Fax: (8610) 67143494
In early 1960s China came from behind in international badminton competitions, outplaying world champions Indonesia twice and beating a strong field from North Europe. Barred from all IBF World Championships, as a non-member, China was known as an "Uncrowned King".
Since the 1970s Indonesia and China have been the leading forces in men's badminton. In its debut at the Thomas Cup Tournament in 1982 China emerged the winners, with their techniques highly spoken of by the world badminton community. In the women's division, China, Indonesia and Japan were the world's top three, while Malaysia and South Korea also made considerable progress in the late '80s. In its debut at the All-England Open Championships in 1982, the Chinese players turned the women's singles finals into a Chinese affair, in addition to winning the women's doubles title. At present, China and Indonesia have maintained their leading positions, which, however, have often been jeopardized by South Korea.