Olympic silver medallist Nathan Robertson and Denmark’s Peter Gade spearheaded a world-record flashmob as badminton once again took centre stage two months after the London Games.
London and Copenhagen were amongst over 100 cities and towns worldwide to host flashmobs on Saturday to support and raise awareness of the charity Solibad – Badminton without Borders, which funds projects for under-privileged children.
Hamilton in New Zealand kicked off the flashmobs with a haka, followed by a specially choreographed routine performed with shuttlecocks and rackets. Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi in a Bollywood style, Singapore, Tokyo, Kazakhstan and Copenhagen followed suit along with tiny Pacific islands and villages in Africa.
Gade was part of a group of Danish national team players to perform in Copenhagen while France’s Pi Hongyan dazzled the crowds by the Louvre Museum in Paris. In Malaysia former world finalist Wong Choong Hann together with former Malaysian stars Lee Wan Wah and Chan Chong Ming celebrated ‘KL Badminton style’.
“This is my first time joining a flash mob. It was a really great experience seeing people from all walks of life coming together with a shared goal and giving it their all to make it a success,” said Choong Hann.
In London, a ‘Challenge the Stars’ fundraiser after the flashmob gave badminton fans their chance to play against Robertson, a former world champion and mixed doubles silver medallist at Athens 2004. He said: “As one of the original Solibad ambassadors, it’s always fantastic to be involved in a world record breaking flashmob, just like last year, but this one is even bigger and better.”
At the same time, during the Czech Republic International Badminton tournament – one of the highest graded tournaments in Europe − Solibad Ambassador Petr Koukal took advantage of the break between quarterfinals and semifinals gathering players and officials to perform his flashmob, in a move unprecedented in badminton tournaments..
Manilla, Philippines, held simultaneous Solibad flashmobs in different parts of the city, with professional dancers included in the performance which was shown on national television.
Elsewhere, Solibad Ambassadors – the best players in their countries – had their own flashmobs in iconic places in their home towns or in their own badminton halls.
Last year the inaugural Solibad Day saw 65 cities from 43 different countries participate.
“Our target was to reach 100 cities this year and we are still getting videos from new places so we’ll definitely exceed that. People are saying how much fun they had performing the flashmobs, and that also is a great success,” said Solibad’s founder and president, French photo-journalist Raphael Sachetat.
“It shows that the badminton community, from leisure players to top stars, can work together to make our projects come true. I can only imagine the smiles on the faces of the children around the world that we help.”
This year, funds raised will go to Gravata, Brazil where Solibad supports a local badminton academy helping children return to school and escape violence at home.