Badminton has had a long storied history. From being a leisurely game to having its first world tournament in 1898, the game has had several milestones even after the inaugural All England Badminton Championships in 1899. As badminton continued to grow in popularity, it would only be a matter of time until a grander stage for the sport was necessary — the Badminton World Championships.
The first Badminton World Championships took place in 1977. It was the first organized badminton competition to be recognized as the sport’s top-flight international competition. Indeed, the All England Badminton Championships transpired before the first championship — nevertheless, it was an unofficial championship competition, taking place on a more limited scale relative to the inaugural Badminton World Championships.
Like any sport worthy of being a global spectacle, badminton’s history is paved with a lot of fascinating “firsts.” Stick around and join me as we go back in time to when and where it all began!
Where Was the First Badminton World Championships Held?
We know when the first Badminton World Championships took place, but where did it occur? You’d imagine that a sport of English origins would see its first championship shuttlecock struck on home soil. However, you’d be shocked to know that this isn’t the case!
The first Badminton World Championship was in Sweden. That’s more than 1,300 miles away from Gloucestershire where the sport was invented! Specifically, the first World Championships was held in Malmo.
Following the inaugural Badminton World Championships in Malmo, Sweden, three more major cities would play as the event’s hosts. In 1980, Jakarta, Indonesia hosted the Badminton World Championships.
Three years later, Copenhagen became the next venue for the World Championships. Interestingly, Jakarta and Coppanhagen are two of the few cities to have hosted the BWF World Championships more than twice.
How Often Are the Badminton World Championships Held?
The Badminton World Championships have been held in varying degrees of frequency since 1977. The most recent changes to the staging frequency occurred in 2005. It’s the one currently observed by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). Here’s what I mean.
Following the 1977 edition, the Badminton World Championships were held every three years. The next Championships were held in 1980 and 1983. However, things changed when the next Championships were staged in 1985. Since then, the Badminton World Championships have been held every two years. In 2005, the BWF changed the frequency of staging to be annual except during the years when the Olympics are held.
Since 2005, the Badminton World Championships has become a yearly spectacle, taking place in many cities and on various continents.
Who Won the First Badminton World Championships?
The first Badminton World Championships had individual events, as well as pairs events. Of the three countries that won, Denmark dominated the Championships — for the most part — winning gold in three out of five events.
For the men’s singles category, the first World Champion was Danish shuttler, Flemming Delfs. Lene Køppen won the women’s singles category as well as the mixed doubles category with Steen Skovgaard. The first winners of the women’s doubles category were the Japanese duo of Etsuko Tuganoo and Emiko Ueno. Indonesia’s Tjun Tjun and Johan Wahjudi were the first winners of the men’s doubles.
Winning silver for the men’s singles event was Svend Pri, sharing the podium with fellow Dane, Fleming Delfs. The men’s doubles can be said to have been dominated by Indonesia. In this event, both gold and silver went to Indonesia, with Christian Hadinata and Ade Chandra taking home silver.
Despite not taking home gold in the first World Championships, England had an impressive showing at the inaugural event, bagging silver for the women’s singles and mixed doubles events. The silver medals were won by Gillian Gilks (women’s singles and mixed doubles) and Derek Talbot (mixed doubles with Gillian Gilks).
The English also took home bronze in all doubles categories, including mixed doubles. For the men’s doubles, the duo of Ray Stevens and Mike Tredgett took home the bronze. Margaret Lockwood, a bronze winner in the women’s singles event, teamed with Nora Perry to win bronze in the women’s doubles event.
When Was the First All England Championships?
Before the 1977 World Badminton Championships, the best were already competing, though on a relatively smaller scale. Before 1977, the All England Championships were the ultimate yet unofficial proving ground for world-class badminton skills.
According to the National Badminton Museum, the first All England Championships was held on April 4, 1899. The Guildford Badminton Club organized the event as an open championship. In 1899, the only categories available for players were doubles events. There were no singles categories.
During this time, the All England Championships went by a different name. From 1899 to 1900, the event was the Badminton Association Championship. It wouldn’t be until 1901 when the event would be known by its current name, the All England Badminton Championships.
Where Was the First All England Championships Held?
Since the inaugural staging of the All England Badminton Championships, the event has been in several venues all over the United Kingdom. Of course, in its first edition, the All England was played in a day and in one venue.
The first All England Championships was played in the London Scottish Drill Hall on April 4, 1899. According to the National Badminton Museum, the venue was selected for its proximity to the railway station, enabling better access to those who will take part in the event. With four well-illuminated courts, the London Scottish Drill Hall had enough space to accommodate four double games at the same time. This allowed the event to take place in just a day.
For the first two years of the All England Championships, the venue remained the same. However, singles events were added to the event, meaning more players would take part.
With the introduction of singles events in 1900, the All England Championships took two days. This was in part due to the limitations of court availability. However, in 1902, the new venue became Crystal Palace. Despite its size with two additional courts, it was only in use for a year because of its relative inaccessibility — especially when compared to the Drill Hall.
How Often is the All England Championships Held?
Within a year, you can expect different badminton events to take place, officiated and organized by the BWF or its member associations. The BWF — along with its member associations — need to organize these events with respect to several other fixtures like the Olympics.
The All England Badminton Championships now sponsored by Yonex takes place annually. However, its yearly staging is a recent development — as recent as 2003, to be exact.
From its inauguration in 1899 to 1976, it was an annual event. This changed in 1977 when it became staged every two years thereafter. This development held until 2003. After 2003, it was decided that the All England Badminton Championships would be held every year.
There were, however, two events that have punctuated the successful holding of the All England. These were the two World Wars.
Currently, the All England Championships can be skipped during the years when the Olympics will be held.
The Badminton World Championships: More than Four Decades of Spectacle and International Badminton Glory
The Badminton World Championships have come a long way since the first event in 1977. Since then, the Championships have been the ultimate proving ground for players from all over the world.
For decades, spectators have watched in awe at the grace and technical dexterity of shuttlers from many continents. As more players make their mark on the world stage, only time will tell what course the Championship’s history will take.
Whichever destination the Championships take the sport, one thing is certain —the Badminton World Championships will continue to have the eyes of a worldwide audience for many years to come.
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