The Thomas & Uber Cups, or specifically, the Thomas Cup and the Uber Cup, as introduced below, refer to the world badminton team championships for men and women, respectively.
The Thomas Cup
The Thomas Cup is the world men’s team championship in badminton that holds the same significance as the Davis Cup in tennis.
The Thomas Cup trophy, donated by the legendary player Sir George Thomas, is 28 inches high and 16 inches wide across the handles, and consists of three parts: a plinth, a bowl and a lid. On top of the lid is a player’s figure. Engraved on the front of the trophy are the words, “The International Badminton Championship Challenge Cup presented to the International Badminton Federation by Sir George Thomas, Bart., 1939.” It was made of platinum in London and was said to worth £50,000 at that time.
A leading player of the English Badminton scene for more than two decades, Sir George Thomas had won between 1903 and 1927 (when he was 41 years old) an impressive record number of All-England championships, including the singles titles for four successive years, nine doubles titles and six mixed doubles titles. He was elected the first president of the International Badminton Federation (IBF) when it was formed in July, 1934.
Five years later, he suggested at the IBF General Meeting that a world cup championship for badminton should be held and offered to donate a trophy, the Thomas Cup, for this event.
His suggestion was accepted by the IBF, but the first Thomas Cup competition scheduled for 1941 was suspended due to the outbreak of World War II until 1948-1949, when it was held in Scotland. Malaysia was the first winner and the first country to have its name engraved on the cup. Since 1982, the tournament has been held every two years instead of every three years, under a single-day 3 singles and 2 doubles format instead of 5 singles and 4 doubles over two days.
As of the 2014 tournament, the Thomas Cup has been held 28 times but the winner’s list has been dominated by just four countries, with 13-time winning Indonesia as the most successful team, followed by China’s nine cups, and Malaysia’s five cups; Japan won its first championship in 2014.
The Uber Cup
The Uber Cup is the world’s most prestigious women’s badminton team championship. It has been held 18 times between 1956 and 2000. As its counterpart the Thomas Cup, it has been held every two years since 1984.
Betty Uber, after whom the cup was named, was a famous English player who had won several times the All-England singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles between 1930 and 1949. To promote her beloved sport after her retirement, Mrs. Uber made an official presentation of her trophy manufactured by Messrs. Mappin & Webb, the Uber Cup, at the annual General Meeting of the IBF in 1956, and made the draw for the inaugural tournament.
Mounted on a swiveling globe stands a woman player on a shuttle. Engraved around the base of the 18-inch tall trophy are the words, “The Ladies’ International Badminton Championships Challenge Trophy presented to the International Badminton Federation by Mrs. H S Uber, 1956.”
Although the United Kingdom is the birthplace of badminton, which had launched both the Thomas Cup and the Uber Cup championships and supplied most of the officials for the IBF, the UK teams have never won any Thomas Cup or Uber Cup tournaments. The American women teams, however, won the first three tournaments of the Uber Cup. Since the fourth tournament in 1966, only teams from Asia have won the Uber Cup, with China’s 13 wins leading the field, followed by Japan with five wins, Indonesia with three, the United States with three and the Republic of Korea with one.