Badminton Life

American Bach Hoping to Bring Back World Title Form

Howard Bach, one of the few Americans to have won a world title, is hoping to go out with a bang at the Beijing Olympics and help to raise the profile of badminton in his home country.

Bach partnered Tony Gunawan to the men's doubles gold medal at the 2005 world championship. He now wants to gain more success at the Beijing Olympics with his new partner, Bob Malaythong.

However, he knows the odds are against him, not only for Olympic glory but to stir the interests of an American audience that is normally used to basketball, baseball and American football.

In a recent interview with USA Today, Bach said badminton faced many hurdles in the United States.

"High profile sports are basketball, baseball and whatnot," he said. "In order to get an edge over those, it's almost impossible because no one really cares about badminton. We don't get much attention, that's always been the problem.

"If it's not televised, there's no way Americans will know about competitive badminton. All they know is the back-yard thing."

He knows he will have it tough in Beijing but says that the Chinese players will be the ones facing the pressure. They will be in front of their home crowds, who love their badminton and demand success from their players.

"Badminton in Beijing is huge. It's one of their top three sports," said Bach. "It's more pressure on the Chinese athletes. The challenges that we face as athletes here is exposure.

"Having sponsors like Bank of America helps put us in the spotlight because we normally don't get attention. But in Beijing it's different because it's popular there."

With Gunawan, Bach formed a solid partnership that conquered the world. However, he is now older and about to retire after the Games while Malaythong is relatively inexperienced on the international stage.

Said Bach: "Bob is a little bit younger, so I'm the person who's going to bring experience to the table.

"He's got all of the enthusiasm, and he brings the energy and the power. So the roles have been reversed. I have to be like Tony now. Bob is where I was two years ago. It's a good mixture on energy and teamwork. We're in a good position because we're still learning to work as a team."

"The most challenging part is figuring out what we're good at and what we're not and focusing on our strengths."

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