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Badminton: 'Grand Slam' plan moves nearer

BIRMINGHAM, England, March 12 - Badminton is set to take a big leap forward tomorrow on the road to a "Grand Slam" of three or four tournaments each year as part of its revamped Super Series.

The Badminton World Federation's (BWF) executive board will meet to choose the hosts for the 12 Super Series tournaments from 2011, from a field of 16 countries.

Three or four of those hosts will then be selected in May as a premier Super Series with increased prize money, resources and exposure.

Darren Parks, the BWF's recently appointed events director, told Reuters: "It shares many of the principles of Grand Slam but we are very keen that it is not a case of there being a break in the structure.

"It is still a 12-tournament Super Series but there are three or four that are going to be identified as being the real leading lights.

"The focus will be on those so that there will be more support in terms of staff, a better package, a stronger TV package and the ambition will be to do that for all 12 but unfortunately, the resource just doesn't stretch that far.

"The idea is to upgrade and improve them all in terms of their TV production, engagement with the public, introducing players with on-court interviews, live draws and the kind of activity around a tournament that generates media interest."

The Super Series was inaugurated in 2007 with prize money of US$200,000 (RM680,000) a tournament and US$500,000 in the season-ending finals.

Parks said the higher profile of the selected events would boost the whole series.

"They drag up the rest...The analogy has often been used that they are the train engine that is pulling the rest of the carriages."

Countries currently hosting Super Series tournaments include Asian giants China and Malaysia and more traditional powers in Europe such as England and Denmark.

BWF officials and delegates are in Birmingham for the 100th edition of the All England championships, which runs until Sunday.

Source from Reuters

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