Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Badminton Challenge: Spitting Feathers

Back To My Routes

Having sat down through my entire first challenge I knew I needed to start bucking my ideas up, so I rechecked the Olympics listings and opted for a sport I'd actually played before - in fact this was one of the few sports I'd ever come close to playing regularly. All it would take to get started would be a trip into my loft to dig out the tools of my new trade and to make a few calls to set up some opposition.

Having been up into the rafters and dusted off my gear I sat down to coffee in my kitchen and rebooted my laptop to work out the details of my challenge.

The sport? Badminton.


Once again the Greeks are thought to be at the route of another sport we still play today, though word has it that China and India also spawned games played with shuttlecocks and racquets - anyhow this is all a few thousand years ago and you have to crank the clock forward quite a bit to find anything resembling the modern game.

In medieval times kids in dear ol' Blighty used to play a game called "Battledore and Shuttlecock" in which players used the 'battledore' (a paddle) to try and keep a small feathered cork (the 'shuttlecock') in the air as long as possible. That's right folks, children used to play in the streets!

The game was enjoyed by many wealthy Europeans during this period but little did they know that slumdogs in the Far East had been practising this shit for centuries.

Back in the 19th Century his Dukeness of Beaufort returned from India with a taste for curry and poona. This is not to say that he founded the modern way of life in Britain where men folk go to the pub , drink copious amounts of lager, then roll into the nearest Asian restaurant and scoff themselves full of poppadoms, naan and brightly coloured food before seeking to get their rocks off with just about any member of the fairer sex. No, this chap enjoyed the pastime of some Indians favourite game 'Poona' (named after the area of its origin) so much that on his return he never tired of showing his guests how many times he could kick their ass at it.

Thanks to these 'wild parties' at his Dukeships residence, Badminton House, word soon spread and the modern game of Badminton was born
The Badminton Challenge

Using the last Summer Olympics as my guide I calculated how many competitors had entered the Men's Singles Badminton Event and worked out how many rounds an athlete would need to compete in to get to the final and win gold.

Then i worked out how long a duration would be challenging in which to complete these matches, here is how The Badminton Challenge looked:

The Badminton Challenge:

  • Play: 6 Matches, each against a different opponent

  • Time: 6 Days

Thinking this short task a doddle I grabbed my diary and made a few calls and... and realised that I'd completely failed to comprehend a few things:

  1. Opponents were gonna be tough to pin down on exact days

  2. The travelling in my job would add to the logistical nightmare*

*My job regularly takes me all over England, sometimes around Wales, and occasionally Ireland, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and has at times lead me to other European cities and US states.
Not one to shirk away from a challenge I booked my first game and ploughed ahead regardless...

How It Went Down

After working in the Midlands on Day 1, I drove North and slightly East to Doncaster where I stayed with good friends and shortly after my arrival I didst battle with the man of the house upon a nearby court. I'd love to say I racked up my first win but my friends I'd be lieing my winkle off. However, in the 2 games it took my debut opponent to beat me I did manage to clock up 39 points. Sadly this wasn't enough and my old foe claimed victory.

Undeterred and and hungry for my first win, the next day I moved to the middle of the land. Yet there I was thwarted by my own bad planning - none of the 10 or so potential adversaries I tried could meet me on the day. I contemplated going to the local sports centre and hanging out till I could persuade a complete stranger to compete against me but figured the challenge was young and I wasn't prepared to stoop that least, not yet.

Day 3 was a Sunday and I'd already signed up a good pal to do battle with. It was worth the trip South Easterly and home - not only did I mark up my first win but I also got the chance to back up an over-cocky tweet I'd sent:

@SuaveRepublique I'm gonna smash your backdoor all over the court!

The next day Suave pleaded that the game of badders had near crippled him with sciatica pain... I was still basking in the victory too much to raise pitty for the poor lad.

Heading cross counrty from East to West with work gave me the chance to park up at my brothers in the eve and engage in a friendly game of badminton - who'd have thought it eh?

Good logistics were in force here, I'd managed to swing the pendulum back in my favour as I would get to play both my bro and his pal Clive. This would net me 4 matches in 4 days.

First up, my older/shorter/wiser brother - it was clear from the off that a mammoth battle would ensue. We scrapped like only siblings can, taking advantage of each others weaknesses; I lobbed the little fellow at every opportunity and he made his overweight bro run all over the shop. Eventually my slight edge on skill in this rapid game paid off and I triumphed in the best of 3 games match.

Confident from my victory I took the first game from my next challenger, who was clearly a better player than me. Somewhat predictably Clive didn't allow me any easy points in the second game and he quickly took an unsurpassable lead to take it to a decider.

Disaster Struck! Just a few points into the final game one of the sports centre staff came into the hall and called time on the evenings main event - we hadn't realised how late it had got and the venue shut at 10pm. 4 days in and only 3 full games played, the success of the challenge was in serious doubt.

When I rocked up back East to meet Johnny the next eve I'd exhausted all avenues to add-in an extra player and had only one route to take...

Johnny was the closest friend to me sports-wise. We'd often talk about starting to get fit (usually in a pub) but favoured the tactic of not even trying and blaming lack of time for our lameness.

I guess when I smashed the poor lad all over the court, in a kind of funny way I was playing my old self, the lazy twat me before the new sports hero me came into being.

A straight games victory bagged, I knew I had only one choice to try and complete my Badminton Challenge so I looked across the courts and found a family playing with an old guy sat idly on the sidelines. Surely I could beat this man and notch up another win.

What transpired was my biggest whipping of the week. I must have ran a few miles during the two straight games that I lost. By the end I was spitting feathers. The sweat dripped off of me to form a puddle at my feet as I shook the hand of my conqueror. But I hadn't been pasted by the retired dude, when I'd asked whether I could play him they'd had a mini family debate and then set their youngest family member on me - I'd just got whipped by a girl nearly half my age!

I'm the sweaty one on the right.
Despite this rampant defeat I was still overjoyed on the way home, for tomorrow I would complete challenge number 2.

Slightly nervous that I would finish the series on a draw if I lost on that final night (that'd make it 3 wins, 3 losses) I drove Joss to the venue. On the way he mentioned that he used to play the game. I knew he was fitter than me too. I startd to panic...

I'd like to say that this contest went to the wire, but thankfully it didn't. Within less than 230 minutes of playing this beautiful game I'd improved beyond recognition and took the final match in glorious style - winning in straight sets and barely troubled.

6 days and 700 miles later I'd suffered 2 defeats and celebrated 4 victories but most importantly I'd achieved my Badminton Challenge!

Like a blubbing championship victor I'd like to thank:

Donnie Chris - battled hard & gave me an education (but only just)

Suave ( @SuaveRepublique on Twitter) - Great friend & Cricket Writer / Whingey Sciatica Victim

My Bro - An excellent loser on the court, an amazing brother off of it

Clive - We live to do battle once more!

Johnny ( @johnnyballs1 on Twitter) - Great mate who will One Day start exercising (you'll love it fella)

Random Girl - Thanks!!! (apologies, I've lost the bit of paper I'd written you name on)

Joss - Fireman 2 on 'Ashes To Ashes' (he's a minor celebrity you know)

As mentioned before, YOU can get involved in The Everyman Olympics.
Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Suggestions or tips you have on which sports I should base an event on

  • How I can make the challenges realistic to the real thing and where I might find facilities to use

  • Stores where I can get good deals on sports equipment and kit

  • OR even if you’re available to play against me or in some of the team events!
Anyone who helps will be mentioned on the blog (Who knows, it may even make a book)

You can contact me at

Or follow me on Twitter:

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