Badminton Birdies Soar High in Sunnyvale

The inauguration of an 11-court badminton club, BinTang Badminton Academy in Sunnyvale, marks a dream come true for many lovers of the sport. The vigorous sport is most popular in Indonesia, China, Korea, and India, and the burgeoning Asian-American populations in Santa Clara Valley have brought with them increasing numbers of badminton enthusiasts.

BinTang Badminton Academy is the labor of love of its founder, Fremont-resident Phu Khyuu (pronounced Khoo). BinTang means “star” in the Indonesian language. An affable law graduate, Khyuu got introduced to badminton at Fremont Mission High School, and trained with some well-known players in Indonesia during his college years. He started the academy with the idea of training younger school kids. Like a Silicon Valley start-up, the club made its humble beginnings in a warehouse in Mountain View. While the training attracted many students, the club could not afford to pay the rent. Khyuu decided to open up the facility to badminton players in the Bay area for a drop-in charge and subsequently a monthly membership fee for open play in the evenings.

As the word gradually spread, people from around the Bay area, especially Indians, started rediscovering the joys of badminton. “I was surprised by the number of Indian members that we have attracted,” says Khyuu. “Today 70 percent of members are Indian. Most of them are working adults, tend to be much more responsible, and are vital to the friendly atmosphere of our club.”

By the middle of 2003, the demand far exceeded the space, and the search for a bigger and better venue started. It was not easy to convince the landlords in the valley, in spite of the downturn, that a badminton club would be able to afford the lease. “I always believed Phu could pull it off,” says Anil Gupta, a Saratoga resident and member of the club. “From the moment I met Phu, I could feel his passion to promote this sport. Taking this on makes no financial sense. Like many a great things, it takes passion almost on the lunatic fringe to make it happen. I can tell you, Phu is one certified lunatic, and I, like many others, am so thankful for it.”

BinTang Badminton Academy is a California registered non-profit organization. The club features 11 courts, a store that sells badminton products, and changing rooms and showers for the convenience of the players. It is open every day.

The Bay area is a blessed place to live in for many reasons, and now there is one more.

BinTang Badminton Academy is located at 1375 Geneva Drive, Sunnyvale. (408) 541-1837. www.bintangbadminton.com

EVOLUTION OF A SPORT

Badminton is said to have originated in India as a grown-ups’ version of a very old children’s game known in England as battledore-and-shuttlecock, the battledore being a paddle and the shuttlecock a small feathered cork, now usually called a bird.

A net was added and the game became a competitive sport called poona by the 1860s, and was played by British army officers in India. Some of them brought equipment back to England and introduced the new sport there during the early 1870s.

It was played at a lawn party held by Duke of Beaufort in 1873 at his country place, Badminton, where it became known as “the Badminton game” among various guests who introduced it to other friends.

American players were among the world’s best until the late 1960s. Perhaps the greatest of all was Judy Devlin Hashman. She won more than 50 major championships from 1954 through 1967, including 12 U.S. national titles and 10 All-England championships. In recent years the best players have come from Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Korea, India, and from the Scandinavian countries, especially Denmark and Finland.


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