Speed badminton gains pace

MARY BAINES
Last updated 15:51 06/12/2012
Speedminton
MARY BAINES
Ready to play: Wellington College students Sebastian On, 14, left, and Michael Bergin, 13, perpare for a game of speedminton.

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A new racket sport, combining elements of tennis, squash and badminton, has become a popular hit in Wellington schools this year.

Speed badminton, or speedminton, is played using a specially designed racquet and modified shuttlecock, known as a speeder, that can reach speeds of 290kmh.

The sport's promoter, Simon Rutherford, said the basic rules were the same as badminton but speedminton didn't require a court or net.

Instead, players stand in squares, 12m apart. The aim of the game is to hit the speeder into the opponent's scoring zone and rally.

Many of the shots and strokes are like those of tennis and squash.

It could also be played at night, with the speeder having a glow stick inside, Rutherford said.

"There's no need for dedicated facilities, meaning students can play in the school hall or gym, or outside on grass or concrete."

The game was suited to all ages - anyone from 7 to 70 could pick up a racket and within 15 minutes be playing the game, he said.

Since its launch in New Zealand in February, three schools a week had introduced it to their sports curriculum, Rutherford said.

Wellington College physical education head Lincoln Rawles said the school used it as part of its year 10 curriculum to work on skills that could later be transferred to badminton or tennis.

Wellington College pupil Michael Bergin, 13, a keen tennis player, said he had just started playing the game and was really enjoying it, despite some problems because of Wellington's wind.

"It is fun on the turf, because you can dive. And the game is quick - it moves faster than you'd expect."

Wellington Girls' College head of department for physical education Jane Chisholm said she was impressed by how quickly students had picked it up, regardless of their level of experience in other sports.

Badminton New Zealand chief executive Nicki Martin said she was pleased Wellington schools were picking up speedminton.

"Speed badminton provides a great opportunity to get more people interested in playing both the traditional game of badminton and a next generation racket sport.

"It's going to appeal to both competitive and recreational players."

Martin said Badminton New Zealand would be putting a team together for the 2013 speedminton world champs in Berlin and hoped to see Wellingtonians in the team.

About two million players have taken up the sport since it was created 11 years ago in Germany. It has 4000 active tournament players.

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Speedminton is played in North America, Europe, parts of Asia, South Africa and Australia.

Equipment can be bought online at speedminton.co.nz and at some sports stores.

- The Wellingtonian

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