World’s fastest racket sport
Badminton is played with lightweight rackets on a rectangular court divided by a head-high net. Players score points by striking a shuttlecock over the net. The shuttlecock is a rounded cork projectile with stabilising feathers attached.
Badminton is the world’s fastest racket sport, with smashes timed at more than 300 kilometres per hour. Championship events follow the pattern of lawn tennis, with men’s and women’s singles and doubles, and mixed doubles.
First New Zealand associations
In New Zealand the earliest badminton matches were probably played in the mid-19th century by people who had learned the game in England or India. Badminton equipment was advertised for sale in Wellington from as early as 1874. Regular play began about 1900 when the Auckland Badminton Club was formed.
In 1925 the Auckland, Whanganui and Napier clubs combined to form the New Zealand Badminton Association, later known as Badminton New Zealand. The first national championships were held in Whanganui in 1927.
What’s in a name?
In 2004 Badminton New Zealand chose ‘Black Cocks’ as the nickname for its national teams, hoping the gimmick would attract sponsors and fans. There was immediate sponsorship interest from condom companies, but the name drew ridicule from the public and firm opposition from the International Badminton Federation. It was soon officially dropped.
New Zealand was one of the nine nations that, in 1934, formed the International Badminton Federation. Since 1938 the Whyte Trophy has been contested biennially between New Zealand and Australia, and may be the world’s oldest surviving inter-country badminton tournament.
New Zealand has also competed in international tournaments for the Thomas Cup (for men) and the Uber Cup (for women). Badminton has been a Commonwealth Games sport since 1966, and an Olympic sport since 1992.
Badminton New Zealand
In 2012 about 120,000 New Zealanders played badminton, and about 12,000 of those played regularly. They belonged to 27 regional associations, represented nationally by Badminton New Zealand.