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Saturday, July 28, 2012


Badminton is like a miniature tennis game with a net 5 feet one inch high, played with a shuttlecock (bird or birdie) instead of ball, which cannot be bounced.  Of course it was invented by the British, in the mid-1700's, but in India, and more specially, in the garrison town of Poona.  The game is called badminton because on return to Great Britain, the Duke of Beaufort's Badminton House (or Manor) in Gloucestershire, 23 miles from London, seemed to be associated with rules development.  Interestingly enough, the Duke was also credited to have invented the Badminton:  gin, midori melon liqueur, blue curaƧao liqueur and lemon juice.  Got to try this tonight.

The original bird was fashioned using a champagne cork adorned with feathers (16, but now you have what is on the right) and is one-eleventh the weight of a tennis ball.  The battledore, or racket, is about a third to a fourth as heavy.  An ace is not common, even though the shuttlecock has been clocked at 206 miles per hour (a tennis ball only travels as high as 164 MPH, but a golf ball has been measured up to 200 MPH).  It is said that NASA's Mercury capsule was designed using the principles of this birdie, but, I guess, backwards.  

One point about safety is that the shoes are different, with no lateral support.  This is because there is a lot of lateral (sideways) movement in the game, but a sudden move can sprain your ankle with the wrong shoes.  Footwork is key in this game.  Yonex seems to have captured the market in badminton shoes.  The #1 shoe is half the cost of the #2, and the #4 is only $12.79.  On the other hand, want the best?  Try the Yonex SHB 86EX for $140 (left).

There is the World Cup for international football, Super Bowl for American professional football, but three cups for badminton:  Thomas (men, left), Uber (women, right) and Sudiman (mixed).  The top ten men are all from Asia save for Peter Hoeg Gade of Denmark.  The top women are also mostly from Asia, with Germany and Denmark represented.  Denmark had the top mixed couple last year, but is now #3 to two Chinese pairs.

In badminton, there are five Olympic golds, including one for mixed doubles.  Tennis and sailing also feature mixed competition.  

The top badminton player of all time, and favored for the gold in London, is Super Dan, or Lin Dan of China (left).  If you're American or European, this could get boring pretty quickly, as China, Indonesia and South Korea have won 23 of 24 gold medals in the sport.  But, aha, Tony Gunawanan won the gold in the 2000 Olympics for Indonesia and is now representing the USA.  He will team with Howard Bach (originally from Vietnam) in the doubles competition.  Unfortunately, they already fell today to South Korea.  The only other American who qualified is Rena Wang, who was born in Pasadena and is a senior at UCLA.  She is coached by Tony, and don't expect much, as she is ranked #59 in the world.  She first plays on Monday.

Tropical Storm Saola, east of the Philippines, will strengthen into a powerful typhoon and head straight for Taiwan, threatening Taipei by mid-week.



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