Friday, March 22

Players unhappy with ‘slow’ shuttlecocks


SHANGHAI: The Badminton Federation defended yesterday the shuttlecocks being used at this week’s China Open in Shanghai following a series of complaints from players.

Tournament referee Isabelle Jobard said the three types of shuttles in tournament use, each with their own speed, had been calibrated by how far they flew when hit by an average player and no speed problems were detected.

On Wednesday the women’s singles fifth seed Jiang Yanjiao from China said “because the temperature of the stadium is cool, so the speed of the shuttle is very slow”, after losing to Bulgarian Petya Nedelcheva.

Winning players yesterday also chimed in to the debate: “a little slow,” said first seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia after dispatching with his second round opponent.

Men’s doubles first seeds Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng, said after their victory they thought the speed of the shuttle was forcing them to play a game of strength and limiting their ability to craft their strokes.

Jobard, a physicist and expert in her field at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and badminton official as a hobby, explained that because the shuttles are made of duck feathers they are especially sensitive to humidity.

“It’s just like hair… when it’s humid or dry your hair is different and the feathers are (the) same material as hair”, she said, adding that the tests carried out were not scientific.

The size of the Yuan Sheng Stadium in Shanghai was an important factor affecting shuttle speed, players said.

“Because the stadium is big, so the shuttle is relatively slow and that is why we have so many long rallies,” said Chen Long of China, the men’s single’s second seed who beat Dane Hans-Kristian Vittingus to reach the quarter-finals.

Peter Gade of Denmark, the number eight men’s doubles seed who also advanced yesterday to the quarter finals agreed.

“This is a very slow stadium. It’s always been like that,” said Gade.

“It’s not a fast playing hall.”

“If the hall is packed with a big crowd and the temperature is rising and gets to 25 degrees (77 degrees Fahrenheit), then we might change the speed of the shuttle,” Jobard said.

Currently, she said, the stadium was a chilly 20-21 degrees Celsius (68-69 degrees Farenheit). — AFP