(ATR) The future is now for outdoor badminton.
BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer and Dong Jiong at launch (BWF)
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) and its global development partner HSBC jointly launched AirBadminton, along with a new outdoor shuttlecock, the AirShuttle, at a ceremony in Guangzhou, China on Monday.
The BWF says AirBadminton is the result of a five-year project designed to create opportunities for people of all ages and ability to play badminton on hard, grass and sand surfaces in parks, gardens, streets, playgrounds and beaches around the world.
Badminton is already played by more than 300 million active players globally but the federation wants that number to grow.
“This is a momentous occasion for badminton. Strategically, AirBadminton will allow us to fulfill our overall objective of putting a badminton racket in the hands of as many people as possible,” said BWF President and Atlanta 1996 men’s singles gold medalist Poul-Erik Høyer, who officiated the launch.
“Given that most people’s first experience with badminton comes in an outdoor environment, we are now making it easier for everyone to access the sport through a new outdoor game and new shuttlecock, the AirShuttle.
Yang Wei at AirBadminton launch (BWF)
Joining Høyer at the launch was Global Head of Brand Partnerships, HSBC, Jonathan Castleman; Atlanta 1996 men’s singles silver medalist, and now Chinese national Para badminton head coach, Dong Jiong; Athens 2004 Olympic Games gold medalist, Yang Wei; 2009 women’s singles world champion, Lu Lan; and 2010 men’s singles world champion, Chen Jin.
Dong Jiong, who joined his Atlanta 1996 opponent Høyer in unveiling the AirShuttle, said: “This is very exciting for the sport. I think this has tremendous potential here in China and around the world.
“It’s also great that it is an inclusive game that can be enjoyed by people with disabilities.”
While the new AirShuttle will allow for a better experience outdoors, the new version of the game will still need to be played in relatively calm conditions. The eventual aim is for the shuttlecock to be played in winds up to 12km (7.5 miles) per hour. The BWF is currently working with leading sports manufacturers to mass produce and rollout the AirShuttle.
AirBadminton is played with similar rules to badminton with the main difference being new court dimensions. The outdoor version includes a two meter dead zone at the front of each side of the court. Should the AirShuttle land in that area, it is deemed a fault.
Written by Gerard Farek
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