Sports / China

Gronya Somerville, poster girl for badminton

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-14 11:17

Gronya Somerville, poster girl for badminton

Gronya Somerville of Australia in a match against Switzerland at the 14th Sudirman Cup in Dongguan city, Guangdong province, May 13, 2015. Han Haidan/For China Daily

DONGGUAN, China - Gronya Somerville is a poster girl for badminton as the Australian has already got a huge following partially because of her good looks and connection with a Chinese historical figure.

At the 14th Sudirman Cup, Somerville is hugely popular with media and fans as the host city, Dongguan in Guangdong province, was the hometown of her grand-grand-father Kang Youwei (1858-1927), who co-launched a movement for a political reform, known as the short-lived Reform Movement of 1898, during the Qing Dynasty.

Gronya is the "fifth-generation" descendant of Kang. Her father is Chinese and mother is British.

"Since I was young, my mum tell us that he (Kang) was like a revolutionist and really helped change China with his unique thinking," said the 20-year-old Australian, who has been trained in a system of "Sport in Schools".

"I began when I was 12 years old through a talent program in Australia and before that I had never played badminton," she said.

"They asked primary school girls to come try for badminton. They just did fitness testing, and picked some of us and started to train."

"And when I just first played it, I just really enjoyed it. And my family all support me," she recalled.

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