First Olympic Appearance: 1992
by Mike Morrison and Mark Zurlo
Billed as "the world's fastest racket sport," badminton traces its roots back to the 5th century BCE. The Chinese originally played a version called Ti Zian Ji, a game that used a shuttlecock like badminton, but was played with the feet. Modern badminton began in India in the 1800s and was known as "poona."
In its current form, badminton resembles tennis, in that it can be played by either singles or doubles and rackets are used to hit an object over a net. Badminton, however, is a much faster sport. Instead of a ball, badminton uses a shuttlecock, which is made of cork and real goose feathers and can travel at speeds up to 260 kilometers per hour (162 mph).
A badminton match follows a "best-of-three" format (two games are needed to win the match). In men's and doubles play, the first side to 15 points wins, while in women's play, the first side to 11 wins (must win by two). Only the serving team can score a point, but unlike volleyball, a serve that hits the net and drops onto the opposition's side of the court earns a point for the serving team.
The court is rectangular, (44 feet by 17 feet for singles, 44 by 18 for doubles) and the top of the net is just over five feet off the ground.
There are five badminton events, men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles. Badminton is one the few events where men and women compete on the same team.
Badminton events at the 2008 Olympics will be held at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium, which will seat up to 7,500 spectators. Following the games the complex will become the training facility for the Chinese national badminton team.
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