International Women’s Day: Celebrating Women In Badminton

March 8, 2023

This international Women’s Day, BWF honours all women, past, present, and future, who have worked to advance gender equality and highlight educational programmes that support females in the badminton family. The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity. Here, BWF celebrates the women and girls in the sport to make an impact.

BWF hails Xu Huaiwen – a key figure in the women’s singles scene in the 2000s. Xu had a significant impact on badminton. She was a two-time European champion and twice bronze medallist at the World Championships. In 2006 and 2008, she also helped Germany achieve their best-ever result in the Uber Cup Finals when they collected bronze.

After a move to England in 2014, Xu turned her attention to coaching with the aid of the BWF Coaching programme; however, the obstacles that lay ahead in her new foray proved to be more than she had anticipated.

“When it comes to coaching players from a variety of ages and abilities, the challenges are different,” Xu revealed.

“It took me a while to transition from an athlete to a coach. I believe the key to success is to adapt my coaching principles and style to suit the athletes’ needs. I’m fortunate to live in England, where Badminton England has committed to providing access to the sport for girls and women.”

Watch: Women’s singles in modern day & coaching clinic delivered by Xu Huaiwen and Pi Hongyan at the BWF Coaching Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Xu Huaiwen (Germany)

BWF also looks back on Milena Surreau, an SL4 Para badminton player, who has been living with autism since the age of four.

The 25-year-old does not allow it to hold her back and broke new ground leading an association, called Auticea, dedicated to training service dogs for those with autism needs.

For example, Eugene, a white Swiss Shepherd, is trained specifically for Surreau’s autism needs and movement impairments from a brain injury.

“Eugene is trained to create what is called a ‘medical alert’. He is able to smell my blood and identify a problem 10 minutes before I could have a seizure. Eugene is my service dog and best friend,” Surreau told BWF.

Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships and self-regulation. A number of triggers can set off a reaction.

Surreau, a salt worker by day, accompanied of course by Eugene. Made her Para badminton debut in 2022, decided to set up her own association training service dogs for those with specific autism needs at the end of 2020.

“In France, training service dogs for those with autism needs means waiting up to three years, so I decided with my mates that we would do this ourselves. As long as the dogs are quite large, any breed can be trained.”

Milena Surreau (SL4) from France. Photo credit to Alan Spink & Craig Burgess