Badminton guide - London 2012 Olympic Games

Your complete guide to badminton ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Photograph: Badminton via Shutterstock

Converted: Fleet-footed, quick-thinking athletes alternately smash and caress shuttlecocks travelling at speeds in excess of 400km/h.

Confused: A low-budget version of tennis using an embarrassing excuse for a ball. Retirees seem to like it.

RECOMMENDED: See our full list of London 2012 Olympic sport guides

Badminton - The essential guide

Street cred: In Asia the game draws TV audiences of millions and its superstar shuttlers adorn billboards and tabloid front pages.

Who’s good? The east Asians – particularly China and Indonesia. And, oddly, Denmark.

The basics: The first side to score 21 points (with a two-point lead) wins. The shuttlecock can’t bounce – neither within the rules nor in a literal sense.

Athlete to watch: Malaysia’s world number-one Lee Chong Wei has never won gold in a major competition. Will he choke again?

As seen in: ‘The Simpsons’ episode (in season 10) where Homer plays doubles with Kim Basinger, Alec Baldwin and Ron Howard. It’s not fully explained why.

Almost useless fact: The best shuttlecock feathers come from the left wing of a goose. Beware cowboys trying to flog you one made from a right wing.

Do say: ‘Chinese megastar Lin Dan’s ongoing duel with Lee Chong Wei is one of the great modern-day sporting rivalries.’

Don't say: ‘Good shot, 40-love!’