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Monday, 10 June, 2002, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK

Poppycock and shuttlecocks

The Duke of Beaufort's vast country estate in Gloucestershire should be better known for horse trials and hunting rather than an indoor racquet sport.

But it was at Badminton House in 1873 that the popular sport got its name after guests at a lawn party held by the Duke introduced it to their friends as "the Badminton game".

Of course, the sport's roots are much older, having originated from a children's game known in England as "battledore and shuttlecock".

Using paddle known as a battledore, players worked together to keep a small feathered cork called a shuttlecock in the air as long as possible.

Badminton timeline
100 BC: A type of badminton played by Greek, Indian and Chinese civilisations
1860s: Badminton-type game called Poona played by British army officers
1873: Guests at the Duke of Beaufort's country estate, badminton, play a new form of Poona
1877: Badminton's first set of written rules developed
1934: International Badminton Federation founded with nine members
1966: Badminton makes its Commonwealth Games debut at Kingston, Jamaica
1992: Badminton becomes a main event at the Barcelona Olympics

The game had been played for centuries by children in the Far East, but was adapted by British Army officers stationed in India in the 1860s.

They added a net and the game became a competitive sport called "poona".

Over 10 years later, the sport made its way back to England and gained its current title of "badminton".

It was credit to its popularity that in 1877 the first set of written rules were laid out by the Bath Badminton Club.

A national organising body followed 16 years later with the setting up of the Badminton Association of England, which in 1899 held the first All England Championships.

Badminton's popularity grew dramatically in the 20th century and it soon became a major racket sport worldwide.

One of the most attractive points of badminton, an Olympic sport since 1992, was that men and women could compete on more or less equal terms in the mixed doubles.

In 1966, its introduction into the Commonwealth Games at Kingston, Jamaica allowed Malaysia to shoot up the medal table.

The Malaysians have dominated the men's competitions since then, winning five of the nine singles titles and six doubles titles.

Four years ago, the Asian country grabbed a clean sweep of singles, doubles and team titles on home soil in Kuala Lumpur.

But England has held on to some pride in the sport it helped develop by remaining top of the women's medal table with triumphs in six out of nine singles competitions and eight victories in the doubles, as well as eight mixed doubles wins.


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