Wednesday 1 August 2012

London 2012: Badminton hits the headlines for all the wrong reasons

I've been watching badminton everyday this week which isn't a surprise as I play badminton every week. I've been playing since I was a kid.

Last night I got home and started watching a ladies doubles match between China and South Korea. Both pairs were struggling with their serves, with a number of serves hitting the net.

I thought 'I know exactly how they feel'. When you're under pressure a simple serve feels like the most difficult thing in the world to do - but something wasn't right in this game.

There were no rallies and shots were continually going out or hitting the net. I got so fed up with the poor standard of play that I switched channels and started watching another badminton game.

As we've now discovered it wasn't a case of players performing poorly under pressure, they both were deliberately trying not to win so they wouldn't finish top of their group and play one of the top seeds in the next round.

No wonder the crowd watching started booing. This is the Olympic Games, people want to see athletes perform to the very best of their abilities but here you had a situation of players insulting the intelligence of the crowd by purposely trying not to lose.

This game had a knock on effect, with the following game featuring another Korean pair against an Indonesian pair tried the same thing.

The farce has resulted in all four pairs being kicked out of the Olympic Games today. It's the right decision, their performance goes against everything the Olympics is meant to be about.

Clearly having a group stage doesn't work, and pure knockout competition is what's needed. From a personal point of view and as someone who loves and plays badminton, the players have tarnished the image of the sport.

When you follow or play a minority sport, you know it will never receive much media coverage. The Olympic Games in a rare opportunity to showcase sports like badminton to the general public.

Now instead of promoting the game and introducing it to a new audience, badminton has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons and wasted a great opportunity to show people what a great sport it can be.

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