Badminton will be one of the first events this summer at the London 2012 Olympics. Whether you're experienced or a novice of the game, there are several things viewers should know to enjoy and understand the sport.
In preparation for this year's event, here are 10 things to know about badminton at the 2012 Summer Olympics:
This sport has British origins: Back in the 19th century, British military officers in India invented the game after adding a net to the game of battledore. Originally named Poona for the town the game originated, the sport was brought back to Britain and was later renamed badminton after the Badminton House at the Duke of Beaufort's Gloucestershire residence.
Matches are best of three games: Similar to other sports like volleyball, badminton matches are played over the best of three games. The first person to reach 21 points wins the game, as long as he or she wins by a margin of at least two points (unless the game is tied 29-29, where then it is the first to 30 points).
Three countries dominate the sport: Since making its full Olympic debut at Barcelona 1992, China, Indonesia, and South Korea have won 23 of the 24 gold medals available in the various events.
172 athletes: Athletes are allowed to participate in one of five events: Men's Singles, Women's Singles, Men's Doubles, Women's Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. There will be an equal number (85) of men and women, except for the two extra selections given to the host country that can be of either gender.
Preliminary stage before the knockout stage: In each event, competitors are divided into groups where they face each other player/pair in the preliminary stage. Each group winner would then qualify for the knockout stage to eventually determine the winners of each event.
Ten line judges: Despite playing on a relatively small court compared to other indoor sports, badminton at the Olympic level has 10 line judges and a referee positioned at the net. These line judges are positioned at both baselines and on the sidelines at each service line.
Singles requires great footwork: Aside from being agile, quick, and great at shot placement, singles players need great footwork in order to reach all corners of the court. Since there is not another partner to rely on, proper footwork allows players to get from one point to another seamlessly.
Doubles requires communication: In the doubles game, it is paramount for both players to communicate and play in unison. As both players rotate around the court trying to return the shuttle, teamwork is necessary for success.
Deception is key: At this level of top-notch competition, all players are well versed and excellent in many facets of the game. In order to score on their opponents, deception is done by angling their rackets, performing flick shots, and outwitting their opponents.
Best competition takes place over three days: While all competition will take place from Saturday, July 28 to Sunday, Aug. 5, the most important days are the last three days of the time span. From Aug. 3-5, all of the final medal rounds will take place in order to determine which countries earn gold, silver, and bronze medals.
Schedule - London 2012 Summer Olympics, Yahoo! Sports
Olympic Badminton - Information, History, Rules, London 2012
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Austin is an avid badminton enthusiast and has been a frequent participant and coach of the sport for nine years. He is also a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network who looks forward to watching the action at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Follow this contributor on Twitter @_austinchang.
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