Shuttling Through 2013

Shuttling Through 2013

Whether it was the election of a new president or the crowning of a fresh-faced teen as World champion or the dawn of “challenges” in badminton – there was something all badminton fans will remember about 2013.

While a star from the past returned to the spotlight – albeit in different circumstances – heroes of more recent vintage called time on their careers.

Poul-Erik Høyer of Denmark (above; right) won the race versus Indonesia’s Justian Suhandinata for the presidency of the Badminton World Federation in May. Gustavo Salazar Delgado of Peru (above; left) was chosen as Deputy President while a record six women were elected to the 26-member BWF Council.

“My aim is to make badminton shine and to secure it among the top-ten sports in the Olympic Games,” said Høyer at his first press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Shortly thereafter, this objective received a significant boost with the wonderful news that badminton had been elevated to Group C of Summer Olympic sports (ranked 9-16), thanks to the sport’s performance at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

In December, there was more reason for rejoicing as the BWF President – well known as the 1996 Olympic Men’s Singles gold medallist – was nominated for membership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

On the court…who can forget the noisy Sunday – 16 June – that the jam-packed Istora Senayan Stadium – bade farewell to one of Indonesia’s favourite sons and 2004 Olympic champion, Taufik Hidayat (right)?

Or was the highlight of the year another Sunday – in Birmingham when a fairytale that Tine Baun could hardly have dreamt came true at the famed All England tournament?

On that day, the tall Danish veteran retired clutching her third – and clearly most unforgettable – All England title. Could she have imagined how prophetic her compliment about her young rival would be mere months later?

“Ratchanok will definitely win this tournament. She is so talented. It is only the beginning of her career. She will be a big star,” predicted Baun (left) of the runner-up.

Barely five months on, Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand (featured image) – long dominant at junior level – underlined her class in the finest manner: beating the World No. 1 to win the Women’s Singles World championship. She is still just 18 years old. Meanwhile, China’s Lin Dan fleetingly ventured back into competition to capture his fifth Men’s Singles World title as Indonesia celebrated the Mixed and Men’s Doubles World titles.

Among the youth, Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, stood out in 2013 – at age 16 winning both the World Junior championship and the Yonex Open Japan Women’s Singles title. Korea (below) toppled China for team honours in the Suhandinata Cup. Meanwhile, strong turn-outs at the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships (235 competitors from 36 countries) and BWF World Senior Championships (900 competitors aged +35 to +70) showed badminton is flourishing at all levels.

The BWF’s development thrust gathered pace with its schools-based programme, Shuttle Time (below), now being available in 14 languages and having been introduced in almost 60 countries. Plans are well underway for implementation in more Member Associations next year as BWF zeroes in on its goal of making badminton the most popular school sport.

Preparing for the future, BWF revealed IMG Media as its media partner for Major Events, the BWF World Superseries and the new Grand Prix Gold series for 2014-2017. Li-Ning, Chery and RedBull China signed on as Major Events sponsors for 2013-2016 inclusive. Insurance giant – MetLife – was introduced as the four-year title sponsor for the Superseries which will include Australia next season.

Jakarta (Indonesia) won the bid to host the BWF World Championships in 2015 while Dongguan (China) will stage the 2015 Sudirman Cup. Helsingborg (Sweden) hosts the BWF World Senior Championships 2015.

The instant review system (right) has been long anticipated and finally players got to use it. Notwithstanding some refinements to the process, it’s here to stay.

Surely Preben Søborg would have loved to capture that first-ever challenge by – as fate would have it – world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei. Sadly, the legendary lensman passed away in November.

The Dane’s impressive collection of badminton photos remains as his eternal signature and legacy.