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1992, an Olympic year to remember for badminton
Date: 6/22/2021 3:39 PM
Published by : Sara Gonzalez Martinez (BEC)
With a lot of history built up, it was not until 1992 that badminton finally made it to the Olympics. We look back at that special year as we are about to witness the Games of the XXXII Olympiad.

Exactly a month from today, the biggest event in the world of sports will kick off, welcoming the top athletes from around the world—this time, however, the crowd won’t be as international. Still, we’re all excited about who will get which medals, and badminton players are among those ready to give an incredible show to the fans.

A huge success after a lengthy battle
Badminton is believed to be over 2,000 years old and yet, it has only been considered an Olympic sport since 1992. There was a long fight for it to reach such a status, and the 1992 Summer Olympics that took place in Barcelona, Spain, were the first in which badminton players could get their hands on the top-rated medals. 

The path to becoming an official Olympic sport was not one without obstacles. History was made when in 1972, twenty-five players made their way to the Olympics in Munich in which badminton was included as a demonstration sport. The growing demands for it to be included in the biggest sports event were heard, but it was not until 20 years later that badminton would be regarded as an official sport.

The year of 1992 was a year of generalised optimism, and so it was for badminton fans and players alike. Athletes would compete for gold, silver, and bronze—the latter would be awarded to those in the third and fourth place. 

177 players from 35 nations gave it their all in the sports debut that consisted of four events, one for each category that would be played in that year: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, and women’s doubles. The mixed doubles category would have to wait until the next Olympics that would be taking place in Atlanta in 1996.

A debut with a glimpse of European talent
With many players from different European countries looking to get their hands on the first-ever badminton Olympic medals, the historic events saw only one player from Europe standing on the podium.

Men’s singles provided fierce clashes between the world’s best. The iconic Danish player Poul-Erik Høyer Larsen made it to the semifinals but only fellow Dane Thomas Stuer-Lauridsen would get to leave Barcelona with a medal. Winning bronze, Stuer-Lauridsen broke the all-Indonesian podium formed by himself and Alan Budikusuma, Ardy Wiranata, and Hermawan Susanto.

Women’s singles wouldn’t see a European champion until the 2000 Sydney Olympics where Camilla Martin stormed in to win silver. In badminton’s Olympic debut, Joanne Muggeridge and Pernille Nedergaard managed to reach the third round, but the category would eventually have Indonesia, South Korea, and China as the winning nations.

Men’s doubles was another total success for Asia. The podium was shared by different nations—South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China—, and the top spots were almost reached by the Danish duo of Jan Paulsen/ Henrik Svarrer who lost to the Chinese pair of Li Yongbo/ Tian Bingyi after a hard-fought three-game match.

Women’s doubles would see a total first for the category in the Olympics not having been included in the participation of badminton as a demonstration sport. There were fourteen European pairs ready to win one of the first-ever Olympic medals in their category. Two pairs made their way through to quarterfinals, British pair Julie Bradbury/ Gillian Clark and Swedes Catrine Bengtsson/ Maria Bengtsson. Valeria Sorokina/ Nina Vislova from Russia would win bronze in 2012 in London, and Danes Christinna Pedersen/ Kamilla Rytter Juhl earned silver in 2016 in Rio.
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