Olympic sport since 1992
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.
||China's Lin Dan returns a shot to South Korea's Lee Hyun-il during the men's singles final match at the All England badminton championships in Birmingham, England January 22, 2006. [Reuters]
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.
A badminton match comprises the best of three games. A coin is tossed before the first game, and the winner of the toss may serve first or pick an end of the court. Only the serving side can score, and the winning team needs 15 points in doubles and men's singles, or 11 in women's singles.
Olympic badminton consists of five events - men's singles and doubles, women's singles and doubles, and mixed doubles. Each involves a single-elimination tournament, with the top eight players or pairs seeded.
LIST OF EVENTS