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Badminton was invented long ago; its origins date back at least two thousand years to the game of battledore and shuttlecock played in ancient Greece, India and China. A surprisingly long history for one of the Olympics newest sports! Badminton took its name from Badminton House in Gloucestershire, the home of the Duke of Beaufort, where the sport was played in the last century. By coincidence, Gloucestershire is now the base for the International Badminton Federation.

The IBF was founded in 1934 with nine members - Canada, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. The USA joined four years later. Membership grew steadily over the following years with a surge in new members after badminton's Olympic debut at Barcelona in 1992. As the sport's development program grows, the current 176 members is expected to increase further.

The first major IBF tournament was the Thomas Cup (men's team world championships) in 1948. Since then, the number of world events has increased, with the addition of the Uber Cup (ladies' team world championships) and the Sudirman Cup (mixed teams) and the Olympics. All of these events feature national teams. In addition, players can qualify to play in the World Juniors, World Seniors, and the World Championships. China, S Korea, Denmark, Indonesia, Malaysia and India are all very strong competitors.

IBF's relationship with IMG started with the organization of the World Cup but has developed to include the sale of commercial and television rights at many IBF events. In these days of mass communications, the importance of satellite television to a world sport is self-evident. Television brings the action, the excitement, the explosive power of badminton into homes around the world, especially in Asia. It pulls in the crowd to see the action live; it pulls in the big guys (ex: Yonex, Carlton) in the sponsorship league.

The next phase in the rise of international badminton is to become popular again the USA. The US was an early member of the IBF and initially one of the most successful. When the Uber Cup was introduced in 1956, Americans won the first three events. Baltimore was a hot-bed of this early action. But then interest died out.

Badminton is a familiar and well-liked sport in the US, but predominantly is a fun game in the back yard or on the beach. We know that once Americans see the competitive badminton - the world's fastest racket sport - they will want more. The Olympics has raised the sport's profile in the US (now-a-days, Olympic matches are often shown on TV during the daytime rather than in the middle of the night like in the 1990s). To watch badminton on the Internet, search sites such as YouTube for "Badminton".

The Badminton World Federation has a "Super Series" of national open championships in various countries. The US Open is often held in California and offers prize money of $120,000. But the most prestigious championship in the series is the All-England Open, which has $600,000 in prizes. Since these championships are open to all players (not just those from the host country), the competition is at a very high level and players must qualify to play.

Sponsors and television companies are increasingly attracted to this sport which gives them access to the Asian economies. And, spectators are increasingly attracted to the enthralling mix of angles, tactics, reaction, touch and fitness that would exhaust a tennis champion.

Watch out! The world's fastest racket sport is coming at you at almost 200 mph!

This history obtained from the International Badminton Federation