(Photo: Badminton Photo)
Legends: Who were Thomas & Uber?
Date: 8/20/2020 11:02 AM
Published by : Alan Raftery
The 2020 Thomas & Uber Cup competition is fast approaching, but have you ever wondered where did the names come from? 

The history of these famous cups begins with Sir George Alan Thomas, who was a British badminton, tennis and chess player. Although he reached the latter stages of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and twice became British Chess Champion, his greatest success came in badminton. In fact, to this day, his record 21 titles at the All England remain unsurpassed. The longevity of his reign is perhaps the most memorable about his career, as he won his first All England men’s singles title at the age of 38. 

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, on 14 June 1881, he was a natural competitor. Thomas served in the army and following the war, he inherited a baronetcy and became Sir George Thomas Bart.

During his playing career lasting almost 30 years, he won 78 national titles. A well-respected man in the badminton community, he became the founding president of the International Badminton Federation (now Badminton World Federation). 

Thomas led IBF for 21 years (1934-1955) and in 1939, inspired by tennis' Davis Cup, first held in 1900, and football's World Cup, first held in 1930, Thomas had the idea of organising an international competition for country teams in badminton. The Thomas Cup was born. Thomas himself gifted the trophy, which stands 28 inches high and 16 inches across at its widest, and consists of three parts: a plinth, a bowl, and a lid with a player figure.

The Thomas Cup was first played in 1949 in Preston, England. Thomas presented the trophy to the winning Malaya team.

Thomas died on 23 July 1972, aged 91. In 1996, he become an inaugural member of the Badminton Hall of Fame. Fellow member, Herbert Scheele, shared this quote about Thomas.

-He was firm, yet had that happy knack of putting his views into the heads of others.

Despite a delay due to World War Two, the Thomas Cup was a success, and the number of participating nations grew with four qualification zones; Pan America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. 

Another inaugural member of the Badminton Hall of Fame, Betty Uber, was a key influential figure in badminton of that era. Uber was born 2 June 1906 in England. She won 13 titles at the All England Open. One women's singles, four in women's doubles and eight in mixed doubles. 

In 1950, Uber had the idea of hosting a women's event similar to the men's Thomas Cup. Her vision manifested itself into reality when she made the draw for the 1957 inaugural tournament, which took place at Lytham St. Annes in Lancashire, England. 

The first nation to win the Uber Cup was the United States. The cup was made by Mappin & Webb, prominent silversmiths on Regent Street in London. It is 20 inches high with a rotating globe on top of a plinth and a female player standing on top of a shuttlecock.

The BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2020 will be the 31st edition of the Thomas Cup and the 28th edition of the Uber Cup. The tournament will host by Aarhus, Denmark on 3-11 October, the first time that Denmark has hosted and the first time this event was held in Europe since 1982 in England.

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