Rohan Mapara, LLB Law
I have one straightforward question for you, which has a simple, factual, answer: what is the fastest sport in the world? Surely, it’s Formula One, the Red Bull Air Race, or tennis, right? Surprisingly, none of these is the right answer, the world’s fastest sport is Badminton! I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, and even as an avid player myself since I was six years old I found that statement really difficult to believe at first. But, think about this; the world record for the fastest smash during a badminton match is 426 kmph (Mads Pieler Kolding – Denmark), and the shuttle regularly reaches speeds of 350kmph and upwards at a professional level. As a contrast, the fastest speed recorded in F1 is 372.6 kmph.
“Badminton is a back-garden sport”, “badminton is slow and easy”, “badminton is a relaxing sport”.
These are the kind of things people say to me when I tell them I am the Men’s Badminton Captain. The vast majority of us don’t know about the sheer athleticism, coordination, and technique required in badminton. During every game of singles to 21 points you will run approximately 3 km, and so you need a strong combination of explosive leg power and stamina to be a good player. Badminton is often written off as a high-level sport by much of the public because of simple misconceptions about its physicality and also because of a lack of media coverage. Professional badminton offers less money than sports like tennis and football, but it has so much to offer when considered as part of a healthy, happy lifestyle (fun fact, a recent study confirmed that badminton is the happiest sport in the world).
At SOAS we run a very open badminton society! If you want to train and play, then you are absolutely welcome. No matter what your level is, you can train and have a chance of making the team. We are one of the only societies at SOAS that goes to the BUCs Individual Championships in Sheffield, which is an incredible trip filled with high level badminton, a great night out, and provides the opportunity to have fun in a new city! Playing badminton at the Individual Championships is a fantastic opportunity to compete at a high level against other students just like you. We attempt to make the trip as inclusive as possible so even if you start out as a beginner you have the chance to come along too! There is space for everyone in SOAS badminton to grow as a social player or a performance player. It doesn’t matter if you have never picked up a racket before; if you want to train, have fun, and make new friends, then this is the sport for you!
So, the next time you’re sitting in the JCR thinking about what new sport to try, give badminton a shot. Hopefully, this article has convinced you that we’re pretty cool!
Photo Credits: Jesse Dodoo