With shuttlecock smashes reaching speeds of more than 200mph, badminton has claims to be the world's fastest racquet sport.
Its blend of speed, agility and precision also makes it one of the most exciting sports on the Olympic programme.
Gail Emms, BBC Sport
"Badminton players are super-fit, super-fast and have super reactions. The British mixed doubles pair Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier are ranked among the world's best and last year won a world silver medal in the arena where the Olympics will take place. The biggest rivalry in world badminton is Lin Dan, Olympic champion and David Beckham of China, against Lee Chong Wei from Malaysia, their Superman. I can't think of any better players in my lifetime."
Badminton has its origins in ancient civilisations in Europe and Asia. The game known as battledore (bat or paddle) and shuttlecock probably originated more than 2,000 years ago.
Despite its long history, badminton is a relative newcomer to the Olympics, making its debut in 1992. It has been dominated by Asian countries, with China leading the way and expected to take the lion's share of gold in London.
Great Britain are one of only seven countries to have stood on the podium at an Olympic badminton event, with their success coming in the mixed doubles - a bronze in 2000 and a silver in 2004. The mixed is likely to prove their best hope once again.
Why is it good for you?
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Badminton acts as a full body workout as the movement of the racquet exercises the upper torso.
It also pushes the core and lower body through a player's movement around the court
The average distance travelled by a badminton player in a game is 3.7 miles, with an hour's play likely to burn approximately 544 calories.
As badminton can be played in pairs, it is an excellent way to develop communication skills and learn to work effectively with other people.
Clubs also offer a variety of social events beyond just taking part in the sport.
Information about which of the more than 2,200 clubs in the United Kingdom is closest to you can be found on the
For those looking to
, badminton equipment can be relatively inexpensive to buy, with some sport centres and clubs also offering a rental service.
Hourly rates for hiring a court often begin at approximately £5 per session, although membership deals can create a lower cost per game.
Men and women compete against each other, with an estimated four to five million people aged between seven and 70 playing in the UK.
It is a very social sport and club nights and matches always include the opportunities to meet new people and catch up with old friends.
Most clubs have busy social calendars containing fundraisers and Christmas parties.
For more details about the sport, have a look at Badminton England's
Want to get involved with sport in your local community? Why not Join In ?
'Join In Local Sport'
aims to get as many people as possible to turn up and take part in activities at their local sports facilities on
18/19 August, 2012
- the first weekend between the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The aim of the initiative is for every sports club and community group in the UK to put on a special event in a bid to encourage more people to get involved as members, supporters or volunteers.
More than 4,000 local sports clubs will be opening their doors to host events and show people just how they can get involved.
As well as tips on playing sport there will be information on coaching, supporting and how to help out.
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The competition format at London 2012
London 2012: Badminton at the Olympics explained (Part one)
- From Saturday 28 July to Sunday 5 August, 172 athletes will compete at Wembley Arena in five medal events: men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles.
- In a change from previous Olympics, all events begin with group stages, followed by a knockout format.
- There will be 16 qualifiers from the group stages in each singles event and eight pairs in each doubles event.
- The winners of the semi-finals in the doubles and singles events play for gold, with the losers playing for bronze.
More on the London 2012 website
The rules at London 2012
A point is won when the shuttlecock is played so the opponent cannot return it over the net within the boundary lines.
Great Olympic moment
Britain's Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson led 11-8 in the deciding game of the 2004 mixed doubles final but defending champions Jun Zhang and Ling Gao of China fought back to win 15-12
Recent changes to the rules mean all games are played to 21 points, but a game has to be won by a player or pair having two clear points over their opponent.
If this does not happen then play can continue up to 29 points, at which time there is a sudden-death play for the final 30th point.
Under the new system, either the server or non-server can score points, with the next serve being made by whoever scored the last point.
Matches are decided on a best-of-three basis, with the winner being the first to win two games.
In singles, the court is 13.4m long and 5.18m wide, while the doubles has an additional 92cm-wide playing area. The court in both sections is divided in half by a 1.55m high net.
More on the Team GB website
Ones to watch
Team GB's mixed doubles pair
have shown glimpses of top-class form, and were runners-up at last year's World Championships/Olympic test event, suggesting they can cope with the big occasion - and thrive on the home support.
China could well sweep gold in all five disciplines.
will be aiming to retain his men's singles title.
His arch-rival, Malaysian world number one
Lee Chong Wei,
is desperate for Olympic gold but is struggling with an ankle injury.
In the 17th century, battledore and shuttlecock was an upper-class pastime in England and many European countries.
Did you know?
Denmark's Poul-Erik Hoyer Larsen, who won the men's singles in 1996, remains the only gold medallist from outside China, South Korea or Indonesia, while all 15 medals at the 2008 Olympics went to Asian shuttlers
A contemporary form of the sport called Poona was played in the 19th century in India and picked up by British Army officers, who brought the equipment back to England.
In 1873 it was played at the Duke of Beaufort's country retreat, Badminton House, from where the sport gets its name.
It was almost a century after the Duke of Beaufort was credited with introducing the sport to Europe that badminton made its debut as a demonstration sport at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
More on the IOC website