Badminton Life

Russians Keen to Develop Badminton

A new force in world badminton could emerge if Russia follows through in its plan to excel in the sport.

The Russians were slightly disappointed at finishing only third at the recent Olympic Games in Beijing, behind China and the United States.

And reports from Moscow suggest the country's sports authorities now want to focus on events in which Russia does not normally do well in. Badminton, according to reports, is top of that list.

Prominent politician Sergei Shakhrai is also head of the Russian Badminton Federation and said the sport is gradually gaining a foothold in the former communist nation. However, he said there is still much work needed to be done.

"In Beijing, we were represented in both men's and women's singles," Shakhrai said in reports. "It's a serious step forward compared to what we had in Athens four years ago.

"However, our players' performances at the Olympics, where they all crashed out in the opening round, exposed serious weaknesses in our system of preparations for the Games and other major events."

The Russian governing body is now looking for top coaches to take them forward and it is believed they are looking at top talent from Indonesia.

Said Shakhrai: "We have longstanding friendly relations with the Indonesian federation and we will likely bring in coaches from that country to work here. We also hope our players would have chances to play Indonesian stars on the regular basis to raise their performance level."

Badminton's history in Russia goes back about 50 years and, significantly, it was not among sports such as golf that was discarded by communist ideology for being elitist.

National championships have been held since 1961 although a lack of facilities has hampered its development. More importantly, however, is the shortage of young talent.

Federation deputy chief Andrei Antropov was quoted as saying: "From my point of view it's inexplicable. Badminton is one of the most democratic and easily accessible sports. Yet we have a constant shortage of boys and girls who want to play badminton seriously."

"We really want to make badminton a mass sport in Russia and to be successful at it. There are already 40 teams playing in Moscow's student championship and, I hope, their number will grow in the future."

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