The history and origin of badminton dates back to the ancient times, around 500 years before the birth of Christ. There was game called ‘Ti Jian Zi,’ which was played in ancient China. It involved kicking something similar to the modern day shuttlecock, but did not use rackets. By the time of the birth of the Christ, a game called Battledore and Shuttlecock was being played in China, Japan and Greece. The battledore was a simple bat aimed at hitting the shuttlecock back and forth as many times as possible. However, the origin of shuttlecock is unknown. For some more interesting information on background of badminton, read on.
During the 16th century, badminton evolved as a children’s game and by the 17th century, it gained popularity amongst the upper class people of Europe. Here, it was known by its French name ‘jeu de volant’. In mid 19th century a game called ‘Poona’ emerged in India, which closely resembled the present day sport. The game was quickly picked up by the British Army officers stationed in India. They learnt the basic rules and brought it along with them to England. In effect, the game was introduced to the noble and royal society by the Duke of Beauford at his estate in Gloucestershire, England.
This estate was known as Badminton House. It is said that it was here that a string or partition was placed between the two players, wherein both of them tried to hit the shuttle away from each other. Within a short span of time, the Bath Badminton Club was formed, which laid down the rules that are followed even today. With this the sport also got a new name, ‘Badminton’. Over the next few years, a number of badminton clubs sprung up in the country. In 1893, the prominent 14 clubs met in South Sea in Hampshire. Soon, after this meeting, the first national badminton association was founded and the first set of rules was also given shape.
During the course of time, the sport evolved and acquired a competitive nature. The first tournament occurred at the end of the century, while the first international ‘All England’ tournament took place in 1899. This led to the emergence of badminton stars, the first one being Kitty Godfree, who won badminton championship, three times in the 1920s. With the increasing popularity of the game around the world, the International Badminton Federation was established in 1934. The initial members of this federation were England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Holland, Canada, New Zealand and France.
India joined the federation in 1936. After its inception, the first major IBF tournament was the men's team championship, the Thomas Cup, in 1949. The first ladies team championship was held in 1956, when the US won the Uber Cup. As more and more tournaments started being organized, badminton became a demonstration sport at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. The first World Badminton Championships, including singles events were held in 1977. During the next decade, the sport was passionately pursued by Asians, primarily by Chinese women.
Badminton converted into a professional sport and the IBF established the World Grand Prix Circuit, with improved prize money. The sport gained much attention in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and was even given full medal status at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. This way the sport grabbed sponsor money as well as media coverage, attracting the world towards the high action fiesta. Mixed doubles was introduced at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The sport hasn’t looked back since then. Currently, Badminton acquires the acclaim of being the fastest racket sport, which is constantly growing in popularity with time.