On the final day of the Baltic Youth Championship in the Latvian seaside city of Liepaja, the team tournament on Badminton 100 relay format took place. The Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian and Belarusian teams competed in three age groups U14, U16 and U18. Estonia won in the U16 and U18, while Belarus won in the U14.
Youth players from Estonia and Belarus also dominated the individual tournament. Katsiaryna Zhydovich from Belarus U14 and Hugo Themas from Estonia U18 won all four possible gold medals, including singles, doubles, mixed doubles and, finally, the team tournament.
“This year the Baltic Youth Championship had a change in the order of events. The competition starts with a team tournament next year, but this year it was decided that the team tournament would be the end of the competition. This allowed coaches to watch their players perform in the individual tournament before deciding who exactly will represent the country in the team tournament. In addition, the team tournament is emotionally saturated, so it is more suitable as the end of the competition. It is planned to maintain this sequence for other years as well,” says Kristians Rozenvalds, Secretary General of the Latvian Badminton Federation.
“In a team tournament, players feel different because it is a responsibility not only to themselves but to the whole team and the country. The format of the Badminton 100 relay also has a significant impact, as there is no time to get to know your opponent, you can’t rely on endurance, every point won is worth its weight in gold and every mistake can cost the entire team a loss. In Liepāja, too, in the U16 age group, the game between Lithuania and Belarus ended with a result of 100: 99, thus the second and third places were at the mercy of one unsuccessful serve,” explains Kristians Rozenvalds.
The games of the Baltic Youth Team Championship were also broadcast on the national sports TV channel Sportacentrs TV.
“Team competition in the Badminton 100 relay format is very suitable for TV, as the length of the game is about an hour, so it is easier to include it in a TV program, and this format is easy to keep the audience’s attention,” explains Kristians Rozenvalds.
The Baltic Youth Championship planned for Latvia in 2020 did not take place due to Covid-19, but before that, in 2019, the Baltic Youth Championship took place in Vilnius, gathering teams from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Poland and Finland.
The Baltic Youth Championship is a joint initiative of the Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian badminton federations, but other neighbouring countries have also been invited to the competition, including Finland, Belarus, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. The Baltic Youth Championship takes place consecutively in one of the three Baltic States.
Both individual and team competitions take place in the Baltic Youth Championship.
The competitions of the Baltic Youth Championship take place in age groups that do not correspond to the World and European badminton rating – U14, U16, U18. This is a deliberate action, as it provides an opportunity to test the national team candidates before next year’s U15, U17 or U19 European and World Championships.
In 2022, the Baltic Youth Championship is scheduled for December 27-29 in Estonia.