Badminton: British tour begins: 30,000 pounds for domestic game

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The Independent Online
THE first British domestic circuit, announced yesterday by the Badminton Association of England, will begin in Ulster next week, writes James Leigh. Named the British Grand Slam series, sponsored by Friends Provident and totalling pounds 30,000 prize-money, it gives up-and-coming players the chance to make a living from the game.

The English players, who won eight Commonwealth Games medals last month, get the bulk of their income playing Open tournaments around the world or in the German Bundesliga. Now they have been told that if they wish to be sure of a national ranking or funding to overseas events by the BAE they must play four of the five tournaments on the new circuit.

They begin at Belfast on Friday week, continue in Scotland next month at Perth, and then travel to Wimbledon, Portsmouth and Lancaster, with a televised circuit final at a venue yet to be announced.

Not since the late-Seventies, when there was a successful English circuit, has there been anything similar. A major difference this time is that the circuit is closed to overseas players and could help developing players from all the home countries aspire to inclusion in the British Olympic squad.

Competing in Belfast will be the most exciting new partnership in Britain for several years, Joanne Wright, the All-England mixed doubles champion, and Julie Bradbury, the Olympic women's doubles quarter-finalist.

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