It was in 1992 that the sport became an official medal event at the quadrennial games.
Badminton made its first appearance at the Olympics as a demonstration sport at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The events took place on September 4 with over 3000 spectators enjoying the action. 25 players from 11 countries took part in the event with all categories being played except for women’s doubles. The International Badminton Federation (now BWF) gave away Gold and Silver medals to the winners and runner-ups. The tournament turned out to be a success and the sport received immense appreciation from the crowd.
Despite earning a lot of success as a demonstration sport, Badminton took more than 20 years to become an official Olympic sport. This was mainly due to the split of the IBF as a new body called WBF (World Badminton Federation) rose to the forefront in 1978. However, the two bodies reunited in 1981. This raised the hopes of the inclusion of Badminton in the Olympics.
Later, it was after the 1983 World Championships that the IOC President, Juan Antonio Samaranch, was convinced of including Badminton in the Olympics. Finally, at the 1985 IOC meeting, the game was accepted into the prestigious Olympic Games.
However, according to the IOC norms, there should be a seven-year gap between the acceptance and introduction of a new sport. Therefore, Badminton became an official Olympic medal sport at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Meanwhile, the game was played as an exhibition sport at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
1992 Barcelona Olympics
After waiting for many years, the dream of watching and playing badminton at the Olympics finally materialized in 1992. The Barcelona Olympics saw 178 players from 37 countries take part in the sport. All categories including men and women’s singles and doubles took place. Unfortunately, no mixed doubles matches took place at the event. It was later introduced at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
The Indonesian off-court couple, Allan Budi Kusuma and Susi Susanti won the Olympic Gold in their respective categories. Further, Korea grabbed the other two Olympic Gold in both doubles events. The losing semifinalists were handed the Bronze medals in that edition.
Progress of Badminton at the Olympics
Since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Badminton has been a part of every Olympic edition till now. Meanwhile, IBF was renamed to BWF (Badminton World Federation) in 2005. Another major change saw the playoff for the Bronze medal.
Since the 2012 London Olympics, the group competition format has been included which is followed by knockouts. This resulted in more matches for the players, which also positively affected the broadcasting of the sport. The same format will be followed at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics as well.
Maximum medals won at the Olympics
Badminton has observed Asian domination for a very long time. Chinese Badminton great, Gao Ling holds the most Olympic medals in the sport (two Gold, one Silver and one Bronze). Moreover, Fu Haifeng, Gao Ling, Ge Fei, Gu Jun, Kim Dong-moon, Lin Dan, Zhang Jun, Zhang Nan, Zhang Ning and Zhao Yunlei have won the most Gold medals, winning two each.
Notably, China is the most successful country in Badminton, winning 41 Olympic medals in total. Indonesia and South Korea are at a distant second winning 19 medals each.
India’s history in Badminton at the Olympics
Deepankar Bhattacharya and U Vimal Kumar were the first male shuttlers to represent India at the Olympic Games in 1992. Moreover, Madhumita Bisht was the first female player to represent India at the Barcelona Games.
However, when it comes to winning a prestigious Olympic medal in Badminton, it was Saina Nehwal who earned it first for India. The former World No. 1 clinched a Bronze at the 2012 London Olympics. Therefore, she became the first Indian to win an Olympic medal in badminton.
Four years later, PV Sindhu took the world by storm as she went a step higher than Saina on the Olympic podium. Notably, Sindhu won a Silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Doing so, she became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic Silver medal.
India’s chances this time
In the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, four Indian shuttlers have qualified for the event. PV Sindhu and Sai Praneeth will be representing India in the women’s and men’s singles. Meanwhile, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will be competing in the Men’s Doubles event.
While Sindhu will be participating in her second Olympics, the other three are making their debut at the quadrennial games. The Rio Olympics Silver medalist, PV Sindhu holds a very strong chance of stepping on the Olympic podium for the second time. Moreover, the young duo of Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty also show promise for a podium finish.
However, the competition is very strong and the Indian shuttlers will have to leave no stones unturned for a podium finish.
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