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A Proud World Championships History

Wednesday 03 February 2016

When the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 come to Glasgow in August next year it will be 40 years since the first world championships were staged in the Swedish city of Malmo. Now Glasgow is getting ready to stage what will be the 23rd World Championships.

Originally the world championships were staged every three years with Jakarta hosting the second in 1980 and Copenhagen the third in 1983. But from 1985 the Worlds were held every two years with Glasgow hosting the 1997 World Championships in a two-week feast of badminton which started with the Sudirman Cup World Mixed Team Championships. 

The Cup attracted teams from 59 nations to Glasgow, the first time the event topped 50 entries since the biennial event was introduced in 1989. By the eighth Sudirman Cup in 2003 it had grown in importance and popularity to become a stand-alone event played every two years and Glasgow staged their second Sudirman Cup in 2007 at Scotstoun.

In the meantime there was another change of frequency for the World Championships and since 2006 it has now been staged every year except Olympic year. The World Championships date is always in August to coincide with the month for the summer Olympiad.

So Glasgow will stage the World Individual Championships for the second time in 2017 and what a welcome the city is planning for players and fans from all over the world.

For the Commonwealth Games in 2014 the badminton events were played at the new Emirates Arena next door to Celtic’s football stadium and this will be the venue for next year’s big event. Glasgow will also host the World Coaches Conference during Championship week.

Copenhagen have staged the most World Championships, having been the BWF’s choice in 1983, 1991, 1999 and 2014. Jakarta have staged three – in 1980, 1989 and 2015. England have also staged three, two in Birmingham in 1993 and 2003 and in London’s Wembley Arena in 2011. Wembley was also used for the badminton at London 2012.

Scotland players made their mark at the very first world championships in Malmo when Billy Gilliland and Joanna Flockhart won bronze medals in the mixed doubles behind Steen Skovgaard and Lene Koppen of Denmark. Gilliland and Flockhart reached the semi-finals before losing to England’s eventual runners-up Gillian Gilks and Derek Talbot.

Two more Scots have claimed medals at World Championships. In Madrid in 2006 Robert Blair, who was competing for England at the time, won a silver medal with Anthony Clark in the men’s doubles.

Most recently at Wembley in 2011 Imogen Bankier, who has just retired from international badminton, won a mixed doubles silver medal with England’s Chris Adcock. The unseeded pair beat the eighth, fourth and second seeds on the way to the final before losing to China’s formidable pair Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei.

Older badminton fans who attended Glasgow’s first World Championships will have had the privilege of watching one of the greatest World finals when Denmark’s Peter Rasmussen faced China’s Sun Jun. It was certainly the longest, lasting more than two hours.

It was full of drama with Sun Jun looking the likely winner, leading 9-2 in the deciding game under the old 15-point scoring system. But then he was suddenly stricken by cramp. If it had been a boxing match the referee would have stopped the fight but Sun Jun struggled on amid stoppages for treatment before Rasmussen finally reined him in to win 16-17 18-13 15-10 after 124 minutes of what was described as “the match of the century.”

Who will provide the drama to match that at next year’s TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 in Glasgow? You better be there to find out!

 

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