There are three sports in which the United States has never received a medal during the summer Olympics — table tennis, handball and badminton.
I was a dedicated table tennis enthusiast as a teenager and had dreams of Olympic glory, but lacked the support, perseverance and knowledge of the infrastructure needed to make those dreams a reality. I like to think that I had the raw talent necessary to take my game to the next level, but I’ll never really know.
If I’d realized back then that the U.S. had never even medaled in table tennis, I would have … still probably lost interest and moved onto other things.
The handball that is an Olympic sport is not the handball with which I am familiar. American handball is derived from Gaelic handball and similar to racquetball. Olympic handball sounds kind of like a cross between basketball and soccer, but with a smaller ball that players can hold in one hand.
I had no idea this sport even existed before I looked it up, but it sounds awesome. Unlike table tennis, where China has been so dominant the International Olympic Committee changed the rules so only two athletes could compete from each country, team handball doesn’t have a clear cut powerhouse. It definitely looks like there’s room for America to step up and become the power in handball that we are in basketball. I think some Olympic television exposure could really raise this sport’s profile and get young people interested.
However, there is no excuse for America’s lack of medals in badminton.
We need to get our sixth-grade P.E. teachers on this now and develop the next generation of elite badminton players. Instead of a week in between intensive units on tennis and basketball, nationwide we should beef up our badminton training at public schools. Perhaps a philanthropic billionaire could start a nationwide league — the Little League of Badminton, for example — that would hone the skills of our young players beyond those of the Asian countries that presently dominate the sport.
I have no doubt that if we start now, America can be the greatest force in the world in Olympic badminton by the 2020 games.
Happy birthday Thursday to Jan Ponder Bateman, James Fulton, Jason Curry, Nora Cline, Vicki Geisler, John Wusterhausen, Evone Gates, Steve Lyons, James Micky Andrews, Doug Wadford, Joel Bassett and Anthony McNeal III all of Sherman; James Edward Clark and Penny Clinton Williams, both of Denison; Don Allred of Taos, N.M.; Brenda Chancellor of Bonham; Johnny Jones of El Reno, Okla.
Happy anniversary Thursday to Steve and Doris Davidson of Sherman, 36 years; Louis and Laura Hubert of Denison, 33 years; James and Richelle Nash of Sherman, 15 years.