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Essential Olympics: Your guide to the sport of badminton

| 03.08.2016

In a bid to make some of the quirkier Olympic disciplines more accessible for the forthcoming games in Brazil, our next stop off in the series of essential guides, takes us to the badminton court.

Although this Olympic pursuit is unlikely to ever achieve the universal viewing appeal of its cousin, tennis, in terms of participation badminton is king of the racket sports in the UK – even when taking squash into consideration too.

Regular badminton participation in Britain is thought to exceed the 800,000 mark, with over 1,800 affiliated clubs and over 24,000 courts spread throughout the country.

Retired mixed doubles pairing Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms (MBE), who achieved widespread international success throughout the noughties, including silver medals at Athens 2004, are Britain’s most famous badminton players.

Chinese dominance and new ruling

Britain will send an eight-strong team to Rio, split evenly between men and women, with mixed doubles pairing Chris and Gabby Adcock currently ranked seventh in the world.

The pair, along with the rest of the team, will be hoping to improve on a tally of zero medals four years ago in London.

Traditionally this sport has been dominated by China, with the country taking a clean sweep of the golds on offer at the last games. However, European nations are well represented and Denmark’s silver and bronze saw the Scandinavians finish second in the medal table in London.

To promote a more open competition, a new ruling for Rio is that each country will only be allowed two singles entrants, as opposed to three that were permitted previously.

Men’s Singles
Women’s Singles
Men’s Doubles
Women’s Doubles
Mixed Doubles

The nuts and bolts

Like tennis, badminton is played on a marked court featuring tramlines and a baseline, separated by a net. Badminton is always played indoors at the top level however. The two other most obvious differences are the height of the dividing mesh and the different kind of ball used. The net is 1.55m high, compared to a meter. The shuttle is used, either synthetically made or natural, instead of a ball.


A match consists of the best of three games. Each game is a race to 21 points and if scores are tied at 20-20, then two clear points are required, with the first to 30 the tie-break limit.

Like tennis, serves must be directed into specific boxes marked on the court and points can be won both by those serving and receiving.

Ladbrokes is not an official sponsor of the Olympics and is no way affiliated with any of the competing athletes, events or competitions being held in Rio de Janeiro this summer



Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.