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Olympic countdown: Badminton stars take shuttle to glory

What makes badminton one of the most appealing sports to watch is the court craft and elegance of players, as they unleash powerful smashes and dribble their opponents into submission at the net.

The game, developed in British India, became the preserve of the Europeans — especially the Danish – and the Asians, where China today is a force to reckon with.

The sport has been a regular part of the Summer Olympic curriculum since the 1992 Barcelona Games, with four events — men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, and women’s doubles – making their entry. Four years later, mixed doubles too was added.

India remained on the fringes of the sport, though shuttlers such as Dinesh Khanna (1965 Asian champion) and Prakash Padukone (the first Indian to win the men’s singles title at the All England in 1980) intermittently shining on the international arena.

All that changed with the arrival of Pullela Gopichand and subsequently, the talented Indian women’s singles players, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu put India truly on the global map.

While the 2012 London bronze medallist Saina has missed the bus to the Tokyo Olympics, India can still hope for a dominating performance from Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, and the doubles combination of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who are motivated as ever to bring glory to the country.

Here’s a look at some numbers which define the sport:

Badminton competitions at the Tokyo Olympic Games will be held from July 27 to August 2 and will have 15 medals in the offing. Here is some information about badminton at the Olympic Games:

1972: The year badminton was introduced in the Olympics as a demonstration sport in Munich.

1992 badminton made its Olympics debut at the Barcelona Games with singles and doubles competitions for both men and women.

1996 mixed doubles competitions were introduced at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

4 medals were awarded in the 1992 edition in each discipline — gold and silver to the winner and runner-up and a bronze medal each to the two losing semi-finalists. A playoff for the bronze medal was introduced in 1996.

11 nations have won medals in badminton so far but only six of them — China, Indonesia, South Korea, Denmark, Japan and Spain — have claimed a gold medal.

41 medals won by China in seven Olympiads make them the most successful country in the badminton medals’ tally. China has won 18 gold, eight silver, and 15 bronze medals so far.

69 countries have participated in the Olympics badminton competitions so far.

2 players — Lin Dan and Zhang Ning of China — have managed to defend their singles titles at the Olympics. Lin Dan won the men’s singles title in 2008 and 2012 while Zhang Ning did that in2004 and 2008 editions.

173 competitors from 50 nations will be participating in the Tokyo Olympics badminton competitions.

14 China has the maximum of representatives at Tokyo Olympics.

4 shuttlers will represent India in Tokyo Olympics — PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty.

15 total medals on offer at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

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