Badminton in Singapore



Badminton was introduced in Singapore in the early 19th century and reached the height of its success in the 1950s.1 As part of the Malayan team, Singapore clinched the inaugural Thomas Cup in 1949 and retained it in 1952 and 1955.2 Today, Singapore shuttlers continue to succeed in the global arena by clinching numerous medals in the Commonwealth and SEA Games.3

Early history
Badminton was introduced in Singapore by the British and was initially played among the British upperclass residing in Singapore. By the mid-1930s, however, the game had spread to the rest of the local population which included English-educated elites, civil servants, white-collar workers and Chinese school students. One of the reasons that the sport was adopted at such pace was due to its relatively convenient gameplay – it requires only a few players – and any piece of flat ground could be turned into a badminton court.4

Amid the rising popularity of badminton, badminton enthusiasts started forming clubs, or “parties”, to meet and play the game.5 Some of the more popular ones included the Mayflower Badminton Party, Marigold Badminton Party, Useful Badminton Party and Diehard Badminton Party.6

In 1929, the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) was established with Tan Boo Teck as its first president.7 The objectives of the SBA were to promote the sport and organise competitions. Badminton parties could affiliate themselves with the SBA and join its annual open championships where the best players were chosen to represent Singapore in the prestigious Malayan Badminton Championships. Some of the players who made the cut during the prewar period included E. J. Vass, Alice Pennefather,8 Wang Siew Eng (also known as Mrs Chionh Hiok Chor),9 A. S. Samuel,10 Leow Kim Fatt, Koh Keng Siang, Yap Chin Tee,11 S. A. Durai, Seah Eng Hee,12 Tan Chong Tee and Wong Peng Soon.13

Postwar decades
After the Japanese Occupation (1942–45), Singapore’s interest in the sport began to diminish as some of its best players were lost to the war, coupled with the lack of facilities and the rising maintenance cost for a badminton club at the amateur level. Nonetheless, the immediate postwar period saw the rise of players such as Ong Poh Lim and Wong.14 They were part of the first Malayan team in 1949 that clinched the inaugural Thomas Cup by overwhelming Denmark 8–1.15 Wong, however, missed the finals due to an injury.16


At the 1952 Thomas Cup championship, the Malayan team defeated America 7–2 to retain the Cup. The team on this occasion included veterans Wong and Ong as well as Ismail Marjan.17 In 1955, Wong and Ong were again in the Malayan team – this time they captured their third consecutive Cup title, defeating Denmark 8–1 at the Singapore Badminton Hall. However, in 1958, the Malayan team coached by Wong lost the Thomas Cup to Indonesia 3–6, ending its dominance in the competition.18

Postindependence years
After Singapore gained independence in 1965, badminton in Singapore experienced a revival beginning with the 1983 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, where Wong Shoon Keat took the gold medal in the men’s singles.19 In 1986, Singapore qualified for the finals of the Thomas Cup for the first time as an independent nation.20 Singapore later hosted the Seiko World Grand Prix Finals in 1989 and the inaugural Konica Cup tournament in 1987.21

At the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the Singapore team captured a gold medal in the women’s singles and silver in the mixed team event.22 The following year, the Singapore team clinched four bronze medals as well as the first-ever gold for the women’s team in the SEA Games.23

In 2006, the women’s team reached the finals of Uber Cup for the first time.24 The team also won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and the bronze medal at the Asian Games, which was the nation’s first-ever medal in the latter’s badminton event.25

In the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Singapore badminton team continued their success by bagging the silver medal for the women’s doubles, and bronze medals for the mixed doubles and men’s doubles.26 The women’s team went a step further that year by winning the women’s doubles in the Li-Ning Singapore Open Super Series – a first for the Singapore team in the 20-year history of the tournament.27 The women’s team continued to deliver by claiming Singapore’s first gold medal for the women’s singles in the 2011 SEA Games.28

In 2014, both the men’s and women’s teams qualified for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup finals.29 They also took home the bronze medal for the mixed team segment, as well as silver medals for the men’s singles and men’s doubles in the Commonwealth Games later that year.30

In the 2015 SEA Games, the Singapore badminton team picked up four bronze medals – for the men’s doubles, men’s singles as well as and men’s and women’s team events.31

Promoting badminton
Promotion and development of the sport has been led by the SBA since it was formed in 1929.32 Many society elites such as Song Ong Siang, Aw Boon Haw and Tan Chin Tuan served as patrons of the Association to help promote badminton among the masses.33 The SBA was also headed by badminton enthusiasts. Some of its notable past presidents include Lim Chuan Geok, captain-manager of the victorious 1949 Thomas Cup team and who oversaw the building of the Singapore Badminton Hall;34 former president of Singapore Wee Kim Wee, who was a keen player in his youth;35 and Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say, the former Association president who was publicly moved to tears when Ronald Susilo lost in the quarterfinals of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.36


In 2000, the SBA set out a blueprint for Singapore to win the Thomas Cup by 2012.37 The plan included strengthening the talent pipeline by building a multigenerational base of players, recruiting players through local schools, and opening all Association matches to foreign players.38 More significantly, the Association began acquiring foreign players and coaches including Ronald Susilo, Taufik Hidayat, and the latter’s coach Mulyo Handoyo.39 However, this strategy has since being replaced by one that focuses more on developing and grooming local talents. The last time Singapore granted citizenship to foreign-born shuttlers was in 2014.40

Badminton facilities 
In the pre- and postwar periods, badminton games and SBA’s meetings were held mostly at the former Clerical Union Hall before they were shifted to the Singapore Badminton Hall after it opened in 1952.41 When the Hall became inadequate, an adjoining S$5.5-million SBA Club House equipped with badminton courts, a gymnasium and other amenities was added in 1986.42 The clubhouse was opened by then President Wee.43 In January 2008, the SBA was relocated to the Singapore Sports School.44 The Association is currently located at the Singapore Sports Hub, where badminton events are also held.45



Authors

Joanna Tan & Lim Tin Seng



References
1. Tan, T. C., et al. (2002). Upholding the legacy: Singapore badminton. Singapore: Asiapac, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 796.345095957 TAN); Tan, H. D. (1986). A look back. In Singapore Badminton Association, The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Vol. 1). Singapore: Harper Press Pte Ltd, p. 27. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE 0762)
2. Tan, H. D. (1986). A look back. In Singapore Badminton Association. The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Vol. 1). Singapore: Harper Press Pte Ltd, p. 27. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE 0762)
3. Singapore National Olympic Council. (2014, August 4). Inspiring performances by Team Singapore at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Retrieved 2016, June 30, from http://www.singaporeolympics.com/inspiring-performances-by-team-singapore-at-the-glasgow-2014-commonwealth-games/; Low, L. F. (2015, June 16). Kean Yew settles for bronze in men’s singles. Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
4. The A.S.A. (1932, January 3). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Tan, T. C., et al. (2002). Upholding the legacy: Singapore badminton. Singapore: Asiapac, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 796.345095957 TAN)
5. Tan, T. C., et al. (2002). Upholding the legacy: Singapore badminton. Singapore: Asiapac, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 796.345095957 TAN); Nathan, S. R., & Auger, T. (2011). An unexpected journey: Path to the presidency. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, pp. 36–37. (Call no.: RSING 959.5705092 NAT)
6. Tan, T. C., et al. (2002). Upholding the legacy: Singapore badminton. Singapore: Asiapac, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 796.345095957 TAN); Nathan, S. R., & Auger, T. (2011). An unexpected journey: Path to the presidency. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, pp. 36–37. (Call no.: RSING 959.5705092 NAT)
7. Mr Tan Boo Teck: President of local association. (1934, April 1). The Straits Times, p. 18; Tan Boo Teck. (1933, December 3). The Straits Times, p. 14; Untitled. (1932, September 10). Malayan Saturday Post, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Mrs. Pennefather wins badminton title. (1937, December 6). The Straits Times, p. 14; Grand old lady of sport dies. (1938, February 25). The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Malayan Badminton Championships. (1937, December 7). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Malayan badminton is of high standard. (1939, February 7). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Singapore badminton notes. (1941, July 6). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Badminton championships. (1938, March 27). The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Tan, T. C., et al. (2002). Upholding the legacy: Singapore badminton. Singapore: Asiapac, pp. 15, 17, 21, 31. (Call no.: RSING 796.345095957 TAN)
14. Tan, T. C., et al. (2002). Upholding the legacy: Singapore badminton. Singapore: Asiapac, pp. 57–58. (Call no.: RSING 796.345095957 TAN)
15. Tan, H. D. (1986). A look back. In Singapore Badminton Association. The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Vol. 1). Singapore: Harper Press Pte Ltd, p. 27. Call no.: RCLOS EPHE 07621); How Malaya won Thomas Cup. (1949, February 28). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Lee, S. Y. (1949, February 24). Bad new clouds Malaya’s great win. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Tan, H. D. (1986). A look back. In Singapore Badminton Association. The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Vol. 1). Singapore: Harper Press Pte Ltd,p. 27. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE 0762); Ong, K. K. (1984). We were great: Thomas Cup badminton. Petaling Jaya, Selangor: Federal Publications, pp. 47–54. (Call no.: RSING 796.345 ONG)
18. Tan, H. D. (1986). A look back. In Singapore Badminton Association. The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Vol. 1). Singapore: Harper Press Pte Ltd, p. 27. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE 0762); Ong, K. K. (1984). We were great: Thomas Cup badminton. Petaling Jaya, Selangor: Federal Publications, pp. 65–72, 87–93. (Call no.: RSING 796.345 ONG)
19. Jalleh, K. (1983, October 18). After Shoon Keat, Who? Singapore Monitor, p. 28; King, L. (1983, June 7). Match-point! It’s now left to the association. The Straits Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Rajendran, J. (1986, February 25). A future flight. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Chen, M. (2014, March 31). Badminton: Singapore’s men earn entry to Thomas Cup finals for first time since 1986. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
21. Surenden,A. (1989, April 21). US$175,000 Seiko grand prix to be held in S'pore. The Business Times, p. 14; Surenden,A. (1987, December 17). Konica Cup puts Republic on map. The Straits Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Badminton. (2002, December 27). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Ho, S. (2003, December 9). Women shuttlers in historic triumph. Today, p. 60; Tan, Y. H. (2004, July 13). Badminton's target on track. Today, p. 48. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Chan, Y. S. (2006, February 18). S'pore through to their first Uber Cup finals. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Foo, A. (2006, March 27). Battlers Li and Jiang have to settle for silver. The Straits Times, p. 9; Chan, Y. S. (2006, December 5). Ordinary S’pore crash 0–3 to Japan in s-finals. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Sport Singapore. (2011, February 17). Team Singapore Athletes Rewarded For Medal Haul [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, June 30, from Sport Singapore website: https://www.sportsingapore.gov.sg/newsroom/media-releases/2011/2/team-singapore-athletes-rewarded-for-medal-haul
27. Lim, V. (2010, June 20). Nation’s flag flies high at Singapore Badminton Open as shuttlers claim women’s doubles title. Red Sports. Retrieved 2016, June 30, from Red Sports website at: https://www.redsports.sg/2010/06/20/singapore-badminton-open-womens-doubles/
28. Sport Singapore. (2011, November 1). Team Singapore’s outing at the 26th SEA Games: 42 Gold, 45 Silver And 73 Bronze in tow [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, June 30, from Sport Singapore website: https://www.sportsingapore.gov.sg/newsroom/media-releases/2011/11/team-singapores-outing-at-the-26th-sea-games-42-gold--45-silver-and-73-bronze-in-tow
29. Chen, M. (2014, March 31). Badminton: Singapore's men earn entry to Thomas Cup finals for first time since 1986. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factivia via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
30. Singapore National Olympic Council. (2014, August 4). Inspiring Performances by Team Singapore at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Retrieved 2016, June 30, from http://www.singaporeolympics.com/inspiring-performances-by-team-singapore-at-the-glasgow-2014-commonwealth-games/
31. Low, L. F. (2015, June 16). Kean Yew settles for bronze in men’s singles. Today.  Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
32. Mr Tan Boo Teck: President of local association. (1934, April 1). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Chen, M. (2016, May 26). Badminton: SBA going local to attain goals. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
33. Untitled. (1932, September 10). Malayan Saturday Post, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Badminton Association. (1986). The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Vol. 1). Singapore: Harper Press Pte Ltd, p. 10. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE 0762)
34. 32 years of loyal service. (1952, May 30). The Singapore Free Press, p. 3; See for yourself, invites Mr Lim. (1952, May 7). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Rajendran, J. (1985, August 28). Badminton champ in his youth. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Tay, C. K. (2004, August 19). Susilo’s medal dream dashed. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Government of Singapore. (2016, July 1). Mr Lim Swee Say. Retrieved 2016, July 2 from Parliament of Singapore website: https://www.parliament.gov.sg/mp/lim-swee-say
37. Chan, T. C. (2000, January 19). Shuttlers aim for Thomas Cup 2012. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Wong, G. (2000, December 1). Local tourney to go regional. The Straits Times, p. 3; Tay, C. K. (2000, January 22). $19m budget for Thomas Cup quest. (2000, January 22). The Straits Times, p. 86; Chan, T. C. (2000, January 19). Shuttlers aim for Thomas Cup 2012. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. Robert, G. (2002, January 22). SBA, convince Taufik to 90 for citizenship. The Straits Times, p. 2; Wong, G. (2000, December 1). Local tourney to go regional. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
40. Chen, M. (2016, May 26). Badminton: SBA going local to attain goals. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
41. Tan, H. D. (1986). A look back. In Singapore Badminton Association. The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Vol. 1). Singapore: Harper Press Pte Ltd, p. 27. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE 0762)
42. Ong Teng Cheong. (1986). Address by Ong Teng Cheong. In Singapore Badminton Association. The official opening of the Singapore Badminton Association Club House 7th May 1986 (Vol 1). Singapore: Harper Press Pte Ltd, p. 3. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE 0762)
43. Tay, C. K. (1986, May 8). President drops a shuttle hint. The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
44. Wang, J. (2007, September 25). SBA to get new home at Sports SchoolThe Straits Times, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
45. Singapore Sports Hub. (n.d.). OCBC Arena. Retrieved 2016, June 29, from Singapore Sports Hub website: http://www.sportshub.com.sg/venues/Pages/ocbc-arena.aspx



Further resource
Badminton Association of Malaya. (1955). Thomas Cup Singapore 1955: Souvenir [Programme]. Singapore: Straits Times Press.
(Call no.: RCLOS 796.345 BAD)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Recreation>>Sports
Badminton (Game)--Singapore
Sports and games
Sports, recreation and travel>>Indoor games
Sports, recreation and travel>>Ball games>>Racket games>>Badminton